Bed sores or pressure ulcers are a medical condition being characterized by the wounds and tissue damages. Learn here more about its signs, causes and treatments.
What are Bed Sores?
Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, are skin injuries or lesions caused by prolonged pressure on the skin due to remain in unchanged position like sitting for a long time. It is common in the patients being bedridden for a long time or those who are using a wheelchair. The sores are likely to occur on the boney areas or cartilaginous regions like ankles, sacrum and elbows.
What Causes Bed Sores?
Bed sores are caused by the pressure on the skin which restricts the blood flow to the affected part. And this pressure is caused by friction, humidity, temperature and age. The tissue is damaged or dies when it doesn’t get adequate blood supply. The lack of blood supply also hinders the growth of white blood cells that are important for preventing infection.
A patient is required to change his position more often to prevent the risk of pressure ulcers. In fact, they should toss and turn while sleeping.
Some Major Causes of Bed Sores Are…
- Being on the hard surfaces like bed or wheelchair for a long time.
- Muscle spasms sometimes cause pressure leading to bed sores.
- Damages caused by excessive moisture to the outer layer of the skin.
Complications Associated with Bed Sores Are…
Sometimes, bed sores lead to complications like cellulitis, bone and joint infections, and sepsis.
How to Tell If You have Bed Sores?
The signs of bed sores have been categorized according to the severity of bed sores. The severity is defined as grade. Grade I is the initial stage while Grade IV is the stage with severe signs.
• Lighter skin color with redness
• The dark skin tan may show discoloration.
• Pain, warm or cool as compared with the surrounding normal skin.
Grade II :
• Damaged Outer Layer.
• Shallow and pinkish/red wounds.
• Pus filled wounds.
• Visibility of inner skin due to the loss of the skin.
• Yellowish dead tissues at the bottom of the wound.
• Deep wound.
• Muscle, tendons and bones are visible due to the wounds
• Crusty and yellowish wounds
• Severity of wounds makes muscle, tendons and bones visible.
• Wounds are crusty and yellowish at the bottom
• The skin damage starts affecting the layers of healthy skin.
Common Spots of Bed Sores…
If a Patient Uses A Wheelchair, Affected Areas Are…
• Tailbone or buttocks
• Shoulder blades and spine
• Backs of arms and legs where they rest against the chair
If a Person is Bedridden (and remains in same position for prolonged period):
• Back or sides of the head
• Ear rims
• Shoulders or shoulder blades
• Hip, lower back or tailbone
• Heels, ankles and skin behind the knees
When to See a Physician?
It is better to see a physician if you even notice the initial symptoms like peeling of skin. You will be prescribed the further treatment to stop the severe infections and signs. A physician visually observes the signs of bed sores.
How Physician Can Diagnose Bed Sores?
Generally, a doctor examines the signs of bed sores by visual observation. The further diagnostic procedure includes the points given below.
• Physical and mental health
• Risk of infection
• History of bed sores
• Urinary and fecal tests
• Diet and nutrition
• Blood circulation
How Bed Sores are Treated?
Your doctor will decide the treatment based on your signs. Apart from topical medication, the treatment also aims to improve your posture and mobility as well. You will be advised to change your bedding and dressing for healing. Surgery can be ordered for severe stages. Sometimes, a patient is monitored by the MDT or Multi-Disciplinary Team of wound care specialist, physiotherapist, dietician, and medical and surgical experts.