Bedsore, also known as a pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer, is an area of skin damage that can form when someone is bedridden or has a limited ability to move. The most common places for bedsores to form are on the heels, hips, and tailbone. Left untreated, bedsores can worsen and lead to infection and even death. There are several things you can do to help prevent bedsores, including repositioning the person frequently, using a pressure-relieving mattress pad or pillow case, and checking for signs of pressure ulcers regularly.
What are bedsores?
Bedsores are pressure ulcers that occur when there is constant pressure on the skin. This can happen when a person is confined to a bed or wheelchair or has limited mobility. The pressure cuts off blood flow to the area, causing the tissue to die. Bedsores most often occur on the bony areas of the body, such as the heels, hips, and tailbone.
Bedsores can be painful and lead to serious infections. They can also take a long time to heal, and some may never fully heal. It’s important to take steps to prevent bedsores or to treat them early if they do occur.
What causes bedsores?
Bedsores are caused by constant pressure on the skin. This can happen when a person is confined to a bed or wheelchair or has limited mobility. The pressure cuts off blood flow to the area, causing the tissue to die.
Other causes include:
- Not being able to change positions on your own.
- Having a medical condition that decreases blood flow.
- Being malnourished or dehydrated.
- Having sensitive skin that breaks easily.
What are the symptoms of bedsores?
Bedsores usually start as a small area of redness on the skin. If they're not treated, they can get worse and turn into an open sore. Symptoms of bedsores include:
- Red, blue, or purple discolouration on the skin.
- Pain or tenderness in the affected area.
- Swelling in the affected area.
- Open sores that drain pus or other fluids.
- Crusting or dead skin tissue in the affected area.
How can prevent bedsores?
If you're at risk for bedsores, there are some things you can do to help prevent them, including:
- Moving regularly, even if you're bedridden. Your caregiver can help you turn every few hours.
- Eating a healthy diet and getting enough fluids. This will help keep your skin healthy.
- Exercising regularly. This helps improve blood flow.
- Check your skin regularly for redness or breaks. If you see anything, tell your doctor right away.
- Take good care of your skin. This includes keeping it clean and moisturized.
If you have a medical condition that decreases blood flow, your doctor may also recommend special wound care products or treatments.
Who's at risk for bedsores?
Anyone can develop bedsores, but some people are more likely to get them than others. You're at higher risk if you:
- Have a chronic illness such as diabetes, cancer, or congestive heart failure.
- Have a skin condition such as eczema.
- Use a wheelchair or are bedridden.
How are bedsores treated?
The first step in treating a bedsore is to identify and correct the underlying cause. For example, if a person is lying in one position for too long, they needs to be moved. This may require help from a healthcare professional.
Once the cause is corrected, the next step is to clean the sore. This involves gently cleaning away any dead tissue with a sterile cloth. The wound will then be treated with an antibiotic cream or ointment to prevent infection.
A bandage or dressing will be applied to protect the sore and promote healing. In some cases, special dressings or pads may be used to help reduce pressure on the sore. Surgery may be needed in severe cases where bedsore has become infected or does not heal.
Bedsores can be painful and take a long time to heal. However, with proper treatment, most sores will eventually heal. Taking steps to prevent bedsores is the best way to avoid them.
How to care for bedsores at home?
If you have bedsores, there are some things you can do at home to help them heal, including:
- Keeping the affected area clean and dry. This helps prevent infection.
- Applying an antibiotic ointment to the affected area. This helps prevent infection and keeps the area moist.
- Changing your position often. This helps reduce pressure on the sore.
- Taking pain medication as needed. This can help relieve pain and inflammation.
What are the complications of bedsores?
Bedsores can lead to several complications, including:
Infection: Bacteria can enter the skin through a break in the skin, causing an infection. Infections can spread to the bloodstream and become life-threatening.
Tissue death: If blood flow to the area is cut off, the tissue will die. This can cause pain, swelling, and foul-smelling drainage. The dead tissue will eventually separate from the healthy tissue around it.
Bone infections: If bedsores are left untreated, they can progress to the bone and cause a potentially fatal infection.
Septic arthritis: This is a condition in which infection spreads to the joints.
Cellulitis: This is a serious bacterial skin infection that can spread throughout the body and be life-threatening.
Kidney damage: Bacteria from an infection can enter the bloodstream and travel to the kidneys, causing damage.
Amputation: In severe cases, amputation may be necessary to prevent the spread of infection.
Bedsores can be very serious and even life-threatening, so it's important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you think you have them. Early detection and treatment can help prevent complications.
After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of what bedsores are and how to prevent them. While they can be painful and difficult to heal, taking proper care of them is essential to preventing further complications. If you think you may have bedsore, see your doctor as soon as possible. With early diagnosis and treatment, most bedsores can be healed without too much difficulty.