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Pressure Ulcers: Causes, Symptoms, Stages And Treatment

By Nupur Jha

Pressure ulcer, which is also known as bed sore and decubitus ulcer is caused due to prolonged pressure, friction, shear or due to all these together on the skin. It's an open wound which occurs on the skin covering the bony region on our body.

These bed sores usually occur on the back, hips, tail bone and ankle, but this condition is highly treatable.

Whats Pressure Ulcer?

Symptoms Of Pressure Ulcers:

Pressure ulcer has 4 different stages and its symptoms vary in each stage. It's common symptoms are:

  • Open skin
  • Discolouration of skin
  • When skin doesn't blanch or lose colour on touching
  • Infection
  • Soreness in the affected region
  • Having firm or softer skin compared to the surrounding

Here Are 4 Stages Of Pressure Ulcers:

Stage 1

In the first stage, the sores are not open wounds, the skin is not broken and it might be painful. Skin discolouration will appear depending on the skin complexion. The sore may feel firm or soft in the first stage.

Stage 2

In the second stage, the skin breaks open or leads to ulcer formation which is generally painful and tender. There are chances that there might be a blister filled with fluid in the second stage. Dead tissues and damaged skin can also be observed around the wound.

Stage 3

In the third stage, the condition worsens, the ulcer is way deeper beneath the skin and it adversely affects your fat layer appearing like a crater. Presence of pus in the sore can be seen in this stage.

Stage 4

In this stage, the pressure sore affects the bones and muscles. The pressure injury is very deep, reaching into muscle and bone and causing extensive damage. Damage to deeper tissues, tendons, and joints may occur. You may also see a dark dry scab of dead skin called eschar in the pressure injury.

Causes Of Pressure Ulcer:

Pressure ulcer, as the name suggests is caused because of pressure. If you lie on a particular part of your body in the same position for long durations, it can break down you skin. Your heels, hips, tail bone and ankle are more prone to be affected as the skin is thinner near the joints and cartilage.

If you rub your skin too hard on a rough surface, that may also result in causing decubitus ulcers.

Who Are More Prone To Suffer From Pressure Ulcers?

Pressure ulcers or bed sores are common amongst people who are:

  • Bedridden
  • Usually on wheelchair
  • Old people
  • People with fragile skin
  • Patients
  • People who need help in moving their body parts
  • People who do not consume enough nutrients
  • People who do not drink enough water to keep the body and skin hydrated

If you can relate to any of the points mentioned above, you are likely to be more prone to suffer from this condition. Make sure that your diet includes all kinds of nutrients and you drink enough water to prevent your skin from drying. Patients, old people and people who require help in moving their bodies should be taken extra care of in order to prevent bed sores.

How Are Pressure Ulcers Diagnosed?

The doctors will diagnose your ulcer by noting a few things about it like:

1. The depth and size of your ulcer

2. The skin colour that is a result of the sore

3. Which tissue has been affected by the pressure ulcer

4. The amount of skin damage and tissue death caused by the ulcer

5. The present condition of the sore - whether it's bleeding, has foul odour or is infected.

Treatment For Pressure Ulcers:

The treatment of the pressure ulcer depends on its stage; it can require a surgery or medication or therapy. The treatment could include antibacterial medications if the ulcer is too infected as well as drugs can be given to the patient to relieve their discomfort.

Doctors can use a process called "debridement" to remove the dead tissues from the wound. It is very important to make sure that the wound remains away from dirt and dust; it is very crucial for the wound to heal properly.

Changing the dressing of the ulcer wound regularly might be done by your doctor to maintain the hygiene and prevent any kind of infection.

Read more about: ulcer treatment diagnosis health
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