Pressure Ulcers/ Decubitus Ulcers Bedsores Treatment

Table of Contents

What Are Bedsores?

Bedsores, also known as Pressure Ulcers or Decubitus Ulcers, typically form on the skin of an individual who must remain bedridden or seated for prolonged periods of time. They form in places where the skin is bearing the body’s weight, in particular areas where the bone is just below the skin. For example, the tailbone, buttocks, shoulder blades, or back of the cranium might become afflicted by bedsores if the individual lays on his or her back for extended periods of time. In other areas, the weight of the body is not compressing the skin as much, and the risk is not as great.

After many hours or days of bearing the weight of the individual, the afflicted area becomes abraded when the individual fidgets or moves. This irritates the skin, turning it red. Over time, the skin may break or crack, and it may become infected. If the individual continues to lie down or sit on the affected area, the pressure will restrict blood flow to the wound, thus preventing it from healing. Continued pressure and abrasion results in an open wound, or ulcer.

Signs & Symptoms of Bedsores

The following are some symptoms of bedsores. Again, examine the skin in areas where it supports the weight of the body. Look for the following:

  • Changes in color or texture
  • Swelling
  • Sensitivity or Tenderness
  • Temperature does not match the surrounding skin
  • Infectious discharge from the affected area

 

If you start to notice these symptoms, try to shift your position in bed (or in your seat) to remove pressure from the affected area. If you see no sign of improvement within 24-48 hours, call a doctor. Also call a doctor if you see signs of an infection, such as drainage, an unpleasant odor, an increase in redness, or warmth or swelling around a sore.

What Causes Pressure Ulcers?

As stated earlier, three primary factors contribute to the development of pressure ulcers / bedsores:

Friction

The friction between skin and clothing in these areas of poor circulation makes the situation worse. Friction scrapes away the outer, dead tissue, exposing the living cells beneath, which leads to redness and irritation. If this friction persists, it can break the skin, causing bleeding, and possibly an infection.

Pressure

When the weight of your body rests on a few specific points, the skin in those areas will have poor circulation. After three hours or more without oxygen and other essential nutrients, those areas begin to die. The effect tends to be more pronounced in seats with no padding, as padding distributes the weight across an area, especially when the individual’s bone rests on the seat.

Shear

This form of friction occurs when two surfaces move in opposite directions, while abrading a third, thus causing it to “rip”. One example might occur when wearing a shirt while sitting up in an automatic adjustable bed. On one hand, the force of gravity acts on the skin, pulling it down. On the other hand, the friction between the shirt and the bed sheet holds the shirt where it is. This causes the shirt to bunch up under the arms, creating shear.

Over time, as these forces continue to act on the skin, it can become damaged, and if it fails to heal properly, it may result in an ulcer.

Risk Factors Of Pressure Ulcers

Several factors can contribute to the formation of pressure ulcers. Some of the more common ones include:

Lack of Mobility

When patients are immobile, they lack the ability to take pressure off of key areas. Eventually, ulcers can form despite their good intentions. People suffering from paralysis are in the worst situation, because they require assistance.

Poor Nutrition

If a person lacks the nutrition necessary to move around or to heal from an injury, then this will contribute to a lack of mobility, and the formation of an ulcer.

Compromised Blood Flow

Venous insufficiency, Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), or other damage to the arteries or capillaries can contribute to the formation of a bedsore, as the body lacks the ability to heal the areas that are damaged.

Neuropathy

There are different surgical approaches to addressing an ulcer. If the artery that serves the afflicted area becomes blocked, there are different techniques for bypassing it so that healthy blood flow can resume. An angioplasty can also be used to clear the blockage. In extreme cases, if the lower leg or foot has sustained too much damage or necrosis, then amputation may be necessary.

Pain

If a person is on a strong painkiller for a different condition, or is sedated, they may be unable to notice when an ulcer is forming. Ideally, a caregiver is present and can assess the patient to determine if they need to take preventative measures or get treatment.

Mental Status

If a patient is not of sound mind, they may be unable to communicate to their provider that they have a problem.

Incontinence

When a person is unable to control bodily functions, it can lead to unsanitary conditions which can affect the skin.

Complications

If bedsores continue to grow worse despite treatment (or a lack thereof), a number of complications may occur:

How to Prevent Bedsores / Pressure Ulcers

woman suffering from bedsores what are bedsores

There are a few basic principles that can dramatically reduce the chance of developing bedsores if the individual puts them into practice.

  1. Keep the affected area clean and dry.
  2. Change position frequently.
  3. Use pillows, foam mattresses, and/or other soft surfaces to distribute the pressure of the patient’s weight.
  1. Check the skin often for redness or irritation.
  2. Stay hydrated; eat healthy food.

How to Treat Pressure Ulcers

All of these tips for preventing an ulcer will also be employed when treating them. If you have one, you will need to stay hydrated, change your position frequently, etc. However, you will also want the assistance of a physician or team who specializes in wound care. This group will prove invaluable by covering all of your bases and putting you on the swiftest path to recovery. 

There are a number of other important methods that may be employed for treating an ulcer once it has formed. Here are a few:

Removal of Dead Tissue/Debridement

If the ulcer has worsened to the point where necrosis has developed, then it is necessary to remove the dead tissue to enable healthy tissue to grow in its place. Debridement is a form of surgery involving cutting away dead tissue, and once it is performed, a “healthy” wound remains. As that wound is treated, healthy tissue will grow back.

Cleaning and Dressing Wounds

After diagnosing an ulcer, your caregiver will bandage your wound properly, with appropriate topicals for minimizing infection and facilitating healing. They will continue to inspect and treat the wound, and apply fresh bandages.

Medication

Depending on the nature of the wound, your provider may prescribe medication to help manage pain.

Choose Wound Care OC For Pressure Ulcers & Bedsores Treatment

If you or someone you know is at risk of developing a pressure ulcer, or perhaps already has one, give our office a call. At Wound Care OC, we treat all kinds of ulcers, and have probably handled a case similar to yours countless times. We know exactly what you need to get well again. Never underestimate the power of a specialist: Give our professionals a chance, and you will see why we are the best option for wound treatment in Orange County.

Wound care specialist Dr. Faried Banimahd

Working Hours

Orange County

California