A pressure sore (bed sore) is an injury to the skin and/or the
tissues under the skin, caused primarily by constant pressure. People confined
to a bed or chair and unable to move are at greatest risk for developing
pressure sores, which form most often in bony areas such as the hips, heels, or
Pressure sores develop when constant pressure reduces blood supply
to an area of skin and tissue. Oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood cannot
reach the cells in the tissue, causing the cells to die. Pressure sores can
range from mild reddening of the skin to severe tissue damage that extends into
muscle and bone. These sores are difficult to treat and slow to heal.
For people who are confined to a bed or chair or are unable to
move, changing positions frequently and distributing body weight evenly will
relieve pressure on any one area of skin. Eating a balanced diet with adequate
protein promotes healthy skin, as does keeping skin clean and free of body
fluids or feces. Moisturizing dry skin with good-quality lotions will keep the
skin from drying out and cracking, which makes it vulnerable to pressure
Healing a pressure sore depends on relieving the pressure on the
area. Treatment for pressure sores includes changing positions frequently to
restore blood flow to the tissue and washing the sore daily. Unaffected tissue
around the sore should be kept clean and dry to prevent further damage.
Removing dead tissue and applying medicated ointments or creams will help
reduce the risk of infection.
February 15, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Margaret Doucette, DO - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wound Care, Hyperbaric Medicine
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