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Pressure Sores

October 23, 2018 0 Comments

Pressure sores, also known as bed sores or pressure ulcers, are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue as a result of pressure in combination with friction. They often develop in the bony areas of the body such as the heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone. Bedsores occur when the body remains in a stagnant position for a prolonged period of time without moving. People who are most at risk are those with a medical condition that limits their movement or their ability to change positions.

Causes

Pressure ulcers occur when there is pressure being exerted on certain parts of the body. This pressure interrupts the blood supply to the affected area of the skin, thereby impeding the flow of oxygen and other nutrients needed by the underlying tissues. When there is no supply of oxygen, the tissue will be damaged. Once an ulcer develops, it can become infected by bacteria and this infection may spread throughout the body if not treated quickly.

Pressure sores develop when there is:

  • Pressure from a hard surface such as a bed or wheelchair
  • Pressure caused by involuntary muscle movements or muscle spasms
  • Moisture or perspiration

Risk Factors

Several factors contribute to the development of pressure ulcers including:

  • Limited mobility
  • Poor nutrition
  • Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, liver failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • People who are 70 years old and above
  • Urinary incontinence

Symptoms

Bed sores usually appear in bony areas such as buttocks, tailbone, spine, shoulder blades, back of arms and legs. If your client is experiencing pain in these areas, check for these signs and symptoms:

  • Skin redness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Presence of pus
  • An area that feels significantly warmer of cooler to the touch compared to other areas
  • Fever
  • Foul odour

Treatment

Pressure sores are often treatable if detected early, however, they can be difficult to prevent in people with serious medical conditions.

Treatment may include using a special mattress to prevent pressure and special dressing to protect the skin, cleansing and irrigation of the affected area, applying topical creams and ointments, and taking antibiotics. Surgery may be needed when the ulcer reaches an advanced stage.

Complications

When left untreated, the ulcers may develop infection and may spread to the underlying layers of the skin, as well as to the other parts of the body including the membranes surrounding the spine and brain. When bacteria reaches the brain, it may lead to a brain infection known as meningitis.

Prevention

If you are dealing with a client who is on complete bed rest, there are a few things you can do to prevent the development of pressure sores.

  1. Change your client’s position frequently to promote blood flow.
  2. Keep the skin clean and dry at all times, especially the unexposed areas of the body where moisture and sweat would most likely occur.
  3. Put pillows between the bony parts of the body to prevent pressure.
  4. Give your patients proper nutrition as prescribed by a nutritionist or doctor.
  5. Make sure that the room is well ventilated.

 

 

Filed in: Care Tips

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