Pressure ulcers are areas of damaged skin that occur when a person is immobile or has restricted movement. The most common cause of pressure ulcers is sustained pressure on the skin, which can occur when a person is lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair. Pressure ulcers typically develop over bony prominences, such as the heels, hips, and lower back.
When left untreated, pressure ulcers can become infected, leading to potentially serious complications. Early detection and treatment of pressure ulcers is essential for preventing these complications. Treatment may involve changing position frequently to relieve pressure on the affected area, using special cushions or mattresses to reduce pressure, and applying medicated dressings to promote healing.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove dead tissue or repair damaged bone. With proper treatment, most pressure ulcers heal without complication.
Bedsores result from tension against the skin, which hinders blood flow to the skin. A lack of movement could make the skin susceptible to injury and cause bedsores development.
Two major contributory factors to bedsores are:
Pressure: The constant pressure can reduce blood flow to tissues. Blood flow is vital for delivering oxygen and other essential nutrients to tissues. Without these essential nutrients, the skin and surrounding tissues get damaged and could die.
For those with restricted mobility, this pressure is more likely to occur in areas that aren’t cushioned with fat or muscle and are located over bones like the tailbone, spine, hips, shoulder blades, elbows, and heels.
Friction: Friction occurs when the skin is rubbed against bedding or clothing. This can make fragile skin more prone to injury.
Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, are a serious medical condition that can occur when a person is confined to bed for an extended period of time. Pressure ulcers form when the constant pressure of lying in one position cuts off the circulation to a particular area of the body, causing the tissue to break down. The most common areas for pressure ulcers to form are on the heels, hips, and tailbone. While pressure ulcers can occur in anyone, they are most common in elderly patients who are unable to move independently.
There are several different stages of pressure ulcers, ranging from Stage I (a minor reddening of the skin) to Stage IV (a deep open wound). The best treatment for pressure ulcers depends on the stage of the ulcer. For Stage I and II ulcers, treatments may include keeping the area clean and dry, applying topical medications, and using special supports or padding to relieve pressure. For Stage III and IV ulcers, more aggressive treatments such as surgery may be necessary. If you think you may have a pressure ulcer, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible so that you can begin treatment and avoid further complications.
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