Pressure ulcers are also commonly known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers. They result from prolonged pressure on the skin causing injuries to the skin and underlying tissues. Pressure sores mostly develop in bony areas like the ankles, heels, tailbone and hips. Moreover bedridden individuals are more prone to pressure ulcers due to their inability to move. Bed sores develop if proper care is not taken to prevent them. Pressure sores can be categorized according to their depth and severity and the amount of damage caused ranging from redness and unbroken skin to deep tissue injuries sometimes reaching up to the bones.
The constant pressure on the skin due to the body weight limits the flow of blood to the skin obstructing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the skin tissue making it vulnerable to damage and hence contributes to the development of pressure ulcers. For bedridden individuals pressure is more in bony areas where less muscle or fat is present. Friction also plays a role in development of bed sores. When the fragile skin rubs against clothing or bedding it can break down especially in presence of moisture. Shear occurs when two surfaces rub in opposite direction. In case of elevated beds the patient slides down rubbing the tailbone against the bed that creates shear. This results in pressure ulcers.
Since bedsores or pressure ulcers are often a problem caused by excessive sitting or being bedridden for longer times, the prevention relies on managing the equipment one uses. The following aids or products can be used to manage as well as prevent bedsores.
Mattresses – A wide range of mattresses, equipped with special features, are designed to prevent bed sores. They provide a comfortable and secure surface that provide a good, restful sleep and help in maintaining mental and physical health. Different mattresses like water and gel mattresses, foam mattresses, innerspring mattresses, combination therapy mattresses, lateral rotation mattresses, and low air loss mattresses are designed with different features to manage bed sores and other bed related problems. Alternating Pressure Mattresses are the best choice to manage bed sores. They are one of the most technologically advanced medical mattresses designed to prevent skin breakdown and allow the skin to breathe. They serve as a great protection against bed sores.
Cervical Pillows – Cervical pillows are designed to prevent bed sores in the upper body by raising the head to a comfortable position and allowing the skin to breathe.
There are a few other tips one should follow to prevent bedsores:
Pressure ulcer treatment includes wound dressing, pain relief, and preventing infection.
Wound Dressings – A wide range of wound dressings can be used to treat bed sores depending on the severity of the sores. The sore has to be handled carefully and using the right kind of dressing is very important to enhance the healing process and prevent infections. These dressings expedite the healing process and also prevent infections that might complicate the sore. These dressings include silver dressings, antimicrobial dressings, foam dressings, honey dressings, hydrocolloid dressings, hydrogel dressings, etc.
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Pressure ulcer is a term used to refer to skin breakdown in an area that has been under prolonged pressure, most commonly seen in bedridden patients or in people who stay in one position too long without shifting their weight. Prolonged pressure, especially in the bony areas of the body, limits the blood supply, causing tissue damage in the affected area. Pressure ulcers usually occur on the hips, backside, and heels.
Pressure ulcers may develop when skin tissues begin to die due to diminished oxygen supply to areas under prolonged pressure. Any condition that results in decreased mobility (i.e. old age or paralysis) or decreased circulation (i.e. diabetes) substantially increases the risk of developing a pressure ulcer. Patients may be unaware of the wounds, because they might be paralyzed, bed-bound, or elderly undergoing treatment for other diseases.
The risk of pressure ulcers increase in case of:
Complications of pressure sores include Infections like Cellulitis (a type of skin infection), Osteomyelitis (a type of bone infection), bacterial infection, Necrotizing fasciitis, Endocarditis (infection of the heart lining), Meningitis, Septic arthritis, Abscesses etc.
Pressure ulcers can be treated by following steps.