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Pressure ulcer (bad sores, decubitus ulcers)

Skin ulcers are open sores that are often accompanied by the sloughing-off of inflamed tissue. Skin ulcers can be caused by a variety of events, such as trauma, exposure to heat or cold, problems with blood circulation, or irritation from exposure to corrosive material. Pressure ulcers, also known as decubitus ulcers or bedsores, are skin ulcers that develop on areas of the body where the blood supply has been reduced because of prolonged pressure; these may occur in people confined to bed or a chair, or in those who must wear a hard brace or plaster cast. Skin ulcers may become infected, with serious health consequences. Other health conditions that can cause skin ulcers include canker sores (mouth ulcers), chronic venous

insufficiency, diabetes, infection, and peripheral vascular disease. People with a skin ulcer may have an area of reddened skin. In advanced cases, people may have areas where the skin is open and oozing fluid.

Bed sores ( Pressure sores or decubitus ulcers) may develop when a person is confined to a bed or chair, being unable to move, loss of bowel or bladder control, poor nutrition, and lowered mental awareness. Fortunately, the risk of developing bed sores can be reduced significantly using the following care procedures - 95% of all bed sores are preventable.

Bed sores or Pressure sores or Decubitus Ulcers are ulcers (sores) caused by prolonged pressure on vulnerable areas of the body. Vulnerable areas in this case include bony/cartilaginous areas prone to moisture and friction. Examples include pressure points on the lower back (near the tail bone or sacrum or iliac crest), hips, ankles, heels and elbows.

A simple example of a mild pressure sore may be experienced by healthy individuals while sitting in the same position for extended periods of time. The dull aches are indicative of impeded blood flow to affected areas. Within hours, this may lead to tissue death. The sore will initially start as a red, painful area, which eventually turns purple. Left untreated, the skin may break open and become infected. Moist skin is more sensitive to tissue ischemia and tissue death, and is also more likely to get infected. The ulcers are categorized into four stages, subject to size and depth. Stage I is the most superficial, Stage IV the deepest (usually extending into the muscle).

Bed sores are slow to heal, so prevention is generally paramount here. Good nursing homes and hospitals usually set programs to avoid the development of bedsores in bedridden patients (e.g. moving them every two hours, ensuring dry sheets, etc.). Bed sore develops when blood supply to the skin is cut off for more than two to three hours. As the skin dies, the bed sore first starts as a red, painful area, which eventually turns purple. Left untreated, the skin can break open and become infected. A bed sore can become deep, extending into the muscle. Once a bed sore develops, it is often very slow to heal. Bed sores often occur in the buttocks area (on the sacrum or iliac crest), or on the heels of the feet.

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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005, health-cares.net, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005