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Pressure Sores

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Updated: June 6, 2006

heel.jpg
Image shows the effects of sustained pressure on the heel leading to a pressure sore
source: triticum.nl

Preventing and Treating Pressure Sores

Pressure Sore Risk Factors

The old, ill and the infirm are at greatest risk
People with mobility problems
Incontinence; urinary and fecal
malnutrition and dehydration
Medications; sedatives or strong analgesics
Diseases such as diabetes. Pressure sores are a secondary problem in long-term illnesses or injury. Other diseases include motor dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and immune disorders
Dementia, confusion or decreased mental awareness prevents a person responding to bodily discomfort and pain in a normal way
Wheelchair usersand the bed-bound

Signs and Symptoms of Pressure Sore Development

  • Discoloration: In light-skinned people, the skin may turn red or dark purple. In dark-skinned people the area may become darker than normal.

  • There may be a bad smell from the area

  • Redness or warmth around the sore

  • Swelling around the sore

  • Tenderness, pain around the sore

  • Thick yellow or green pus

  • Size of pressure sores are variable, they can go down into the muscle, or even to the bone.

  • Further reduction in mobility
  • Pressure Sore Prevention
    Relieving pressure: Position must be changed on a regular basis, at least every two hours, and in the very frail at least every hour.
    Good Diet: A good and balanced diet contributes to healing, as well as avoiding severe nutritional and weight loss
    Skin Care: Keep the skin clean. Moisture should be minimized. Skin care products should be used that moisturize the skin but do not make it wet or soggy.
    Use continence aids if a person is unable to control their bladder or bowels. Pads, diapers, convenes or catheterizing.
    Inspect the skin to see if any redness or breaks in the skin are developing.
    Use products to relieve and treat pressure sores; airbeds, foam bed, bed and chair protectors, chair products, continence aids can all contribute to avoiding of bed sores.

    Getting Prompt Help
    Consult a health professional for advice on how to avoid pressure sores and to find out about appropriate products.
    Alert a doctor or nurse immediately if you notice signs of infection. Signs and Symptoms include a raised temperature, fever, chills, mental confusion or difficulty concentrating, rapid heartbeat, weakness , increased pain. Antibiotics, IV hydration,

    Treating Pressure Sores

  • Relieve pressure regularly: Hourly

  • Do not sit or lie on a pressure sore

  • Use pillows or other similar positional products such as foam wedges to support, keep pressure off an area and to encourage different positions.

  • Wheelchair users should try to keep as upright a position as possible
  • Cleaning a pressure sore: Pressure sores need to be kept clean and free from dead tissue. A saline solution can be used and a dressing applied. The dressing should be renewed daily unless it is a specialized dressing product, such as a hydrocolloid dressing, or a film dressing. Your doctor or health care advisor will instruct you on the appropriate length of time.
    Medical advice and intervention is advised to help in the assessment and treatment of pressure sores. There is always a danger that a person who is malnourished and therefore has a less effective immune system, may succumb to infection to the sore entering the blood stream, a condition known as septicemia. The bacteria can cause irreversible damage to internal organs, leading to death.

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