Pressure ulcers are also known as pressure sores, bed sores and decubitus ulcers. They are caused when areas of the skin have been exposed to significant pressure which then leads to skin damage. It is very common with the elderly which is why pressure ulcers are a cause of concern in healthcare and residential scenarios. They are also known to be an international concern, so strict plans and guidelines have been put into place to support to prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers.
In this article we’re going to look at the development of ulcers and how they can be prevented – this is your essential guide to tackling pressure ulcers.
Who is Affected By Pressure Ulcers?
All of us are potentially at risk of developing a pressure ulcer, however they are more likely to occur in people are suffer from impaired mobility, those who are seriously ill, have poor posture, compromised skin or those who are malnourished.
People who are immobile or those who sit for long periods of time are at a high risk of developing a pressure ulcer. Although in the elderly it’s common for reduced mobility, it’s extremely important to promote mobility and movement in order to prevent pressure ulcers and sores. This can be achieving through a range of effective and safe mobility aids. You can view the importance of mobility aids and add them to your own personal list of how to prevent and tackle pressure ulcers, along with other important elements.
It is essential that patients who are immobile are assessed by a doctor, nurse or occupational therapist to ascertain their risk and therefore establish a suitable and effective prevention plan based on SSKIN. There are several home remedies that can be used to treat pressure ulcers, but to recover most efficiently, pressure care equipment is very effective and works wonders.
How Do Pressure Ulcers Develop?
There are two main factors that contribute to the development of pressure ulcers. These are internal influences – which are those relating to the person and their health and then external influences – which relate to the surrounding environment.
Let’s look at pressure, first of all – Pressure occurs when the weight of the body is pushed against a specific area of the skin. The force that leads to pressure ulcers is caused by heightened force on a specific area of the body or lower pressure over a period of time. Because of the pressure, it reduces the blood supply to the skin and therefore, without the oxygen and nutrients that the blood brings, the skin dies.
Then comes shear – Shear is caused when the layers of the skin are forced to slide over one another. This is most likely caused by the movement of the patient from a bed or chair but as the amount of shear increases, the pressure leading to pressure ulcers is reduced.
Say hi to friction – Friction is the rubbing of the skin – once this happens, whether it’s due to inappropriate, unsuitable handling methods, it removes the top layers of the skin (also known as epidermis and dermis) which results in superficial tissue loss. If this action is repeated, it can increase the risk of pressure ulcers altogether.
How To Treat Pressure Ulcers?
Once you’re in the treatment stage and a doctor has examined the pressure sore, there are several things a patient can do in order to relieve the pressure and contribute to the overall recovery.
- Relieve pressure on the area every 2 hours – this means no lying or sitting on the area of skin
- Pressure care cushions – specialist pressure care cushions work extremely well as they can used on chairs, wheelchairs, beds, and anywhere that you like! They are designed to increase comfort and assist in the pressure sore recovery.
- Pressure care heel protectors – heel protectors prevent pressure injuries and help existing pressure injuries. They prevent dirt and infection and are ideal for the elderly and disabled patients who are unable to move freely.
- Dressings – dressings depend on the severity of the ulcer. Dressings keep the area clean therefore allowing it to heal. There are several types of dressings for sores, including: alginate dressings, clear film foam, honey, hydrogel and more.
Preventing Pressure Ulcers
Preventing pressure ulcers should be a focus during long periods where patients are not being very mobile and stuck in one particular place. This is common in hospitals and recovery, or patients at home who are unable to care for themselves without assistance. A few simple tips can help reduce and prevent pressure sores, see below.
Reposition often – If it’s known that a patient is not going to be able to move freely, whether it’s because they’re in hospital after an operation, or they’re suffering from an injury that is causing them to be bed ridden, repositioning regularly is KEY. This is because when you change positions regularly, it results in less pressure on your skin.
Keep the area dry and clean to prevent infection – The drier and cleaner skin is, the less likely it will develop pressure ulcers.
Pressure care equipment – Use pressure care cushions and pillows. You should use pillows between parts of your body that press against each other, as this will reduce the possibility of a pressure ulcer developing.
Exercise and mobility – We understand that for those who can’t get out of bed to move around or perform activities and exercise, it can be quite daunting. However, simply taking part in a range of motion exercises in bed can do the trick! They don’t take too much effort or time, an easy arm lift, leg lift for ten seconds is good enough and prevents sores and ulcers.
Pressure ulcers and sores are most common bedridden patients, and they not only cause discomfort and pain, but they can lead to infections. The body requires enough movement to keep the blood flowing properly, allowing the body to receive the nutrients and oxygen it needs to operate efficiently. If you are concerned you’re on the verge of developing a pressure ulcer, consult your doctor as soon as possible, and ensure you remember some of the tips in this article to help you on your journey.