Ways to Prevent And Treat Pressure Ulcers

You may think that pressure ulcers are the result of inadequate care or neglect, but most seniors and people who cannot move are at risk for these painful sores. According to statistics released by the Pressure Injury Advisory Panel, 2.5 million patients develop these wounds each year, and 60,000 patients die due to dangerous complications from these wounds. This remarkable statistic highlights the importance of receiving specialized care.

Fortunately, our center, with 15+ years of experience and having skilled nurses, can provide effective help to you and your loved ones. Our nurses offer Advanced Wound Care for a range of wounds, including pressure sores.

In this article, we will explain how pressure ulcers are formed and what you can do at each stage to prevent the progression of the ulcer.


Why do some people get pressure ulcers?

Pressure ulcers or bedsores occur in areas of the skin that are under pressure for a long time. On the following circumstances, there is a possibility of bedsores:

  • Lying in bed
  • Sitting in a wheelchair
  • Wearing a cast for a prolonged time
  • Friction or rubbing caused by stretching of the skin on the bedding
  • Shearing,  when the body slides in a chair or bed, then skin slides or pulls away from the supportive tissues below it

Pressure ulcers may be called by other names:

  • Pressure injuries
  • Pressure sores
  • Bedsores
  • Decubitus ulcers

If an immobile person is not positioned correctly and given good nutrition and skincare, these chronic sores can develop. The risk of pressure ulcers will significantly increase in the following condition:

  • Inactivity: People who are unable to move correctly due to injuries such as spinal cord injury are at risk for bedsores.
  • Incontinence: In this condition, moisture from urine or stool makes skin weaker and more prone to irritation.
  • Lack of sensory perception: Spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders lead to loss of sensation. Consequently, you may not feel any warning signs such as pain or the need to change position.
  • Poor nutrition and inadequate hydration: Not using fluids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can impair skin health and make this organ vulnerable.
  • Some medical conditions: People with diabetes and vascular diseases are more at risk for bedsores.

Stages of pressure ulcer formation

If the blood supply to the skin is disrupted for more than two to three hours, bedsores will develop. At first, these ulcers are characterized by red and painful areas that gradually turn purple. If left untreated, the skin will break open, and these areas will become infected.

Unfortunately, pressure ulcers may deepen and progress to the muscles and bones. On the other hand, the healing process of these sores is very slow. In some cases, surgery is needed to speed up the recovery process.

The following areas are most at risk:

  • Buttocks area
  • Heels of the feet
  • Shoulder blades
  • Back of the head
  • Backs and sides of the knees

Stages of pressure ulcer formation

Pressure ulcers are divided into several stages based on severity:

StagesWound FeaturesWhat to doRecovery  time
1The vulnerable skin areas become red and warm. You may feel pain or itching in this condition. Vulnerable areas may also turn blue or purple in darker skins.
  • Stop the pressure
  • Change your position
  • Use foam pads, pillows, or mattresses
  • Wash the sore with a gentle cleanser dry it completely.
  • Move at least once every 2 hours.
2 or 3 days
2Open wounds and blisters appear. You will probably feel significant pain. In addition, the skin around the wound begins to discolor.
  • Follow the same steps for stage 1
  • Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any signs of infection.
3 days to 3 weeks
3In this stage, the ulcer is gone through deeper into the fat tissue.
  • The doctor removes the dead tissue
  • Antibiotics are essential to prevent infection.
  • You may need a special bed at this stage.
Up to 4 months
4A large wound is seen. At this stage, the muscles, bones, tendons, and joints may be involved. Infection is also a serious threat.
  • Surgery may be needed at this stage.
3 months to even years

If the bottom of the ulcer is not visible and there is full-thickness tissue loss, the wound is not assigned a stage.


Treatment measures

If the severity of the wound is significant, you will need specialized help for treatment. The healthcare provider and the wound care team consider the following options based on the severity of the sores:

  • Remove pressure from the affected area
  • Use of gauze and special bandages
  • Removal of dead, damaged, and infected tissue
  • Transplantation of healthy skin tissue to the affected areas
  • Negative pressure wound therapy
  • Antibiotics to treat the infection


What are the complications of the ulcers?

If left untreated, bedsores can be life-threatening. Complications of bedsores include:

  • Cellulitis: It is the infection of the skin and connected soft tissues.
  • Infection: Wound infection can lead to infection of the bones and joints and damage the cartilage and tissue.
  • Cancer: Untreated ulcers can lead to cancer called squamous cell carcinoma in the long term.
  • Sepsis: This dangerous condition is caused by a severe immune response to infection and can be fatal.


How to prevent pressure ulcers?

Pressure ulcers are preventable if an experienced caregiver or nurse properly inspects skin for areas of redness. If someone you love is at risk for bed sores, consider the following:

  • Change position and turn every two hours
  • Place soft padding in a wheelchair or bed to reduce pressure.
  • Keep skin clean and dry.
  • Get enough fluids, protein, minerals, and vitamins.

Consider the following tips for skin care:

  • When washing the skin, use a mild cleanser and then dry the skin thoroughly. Try to do this cleansing routine regularly.
  • Use a good moisturizer to protect your skin from urine and feces.
  • Change bedding and clothes frequently. Beware of buttons and folds of bedding as they can irritate the skin.
  • Examine your skin daily for warning signs of pressure ulcers.


Health & Care Professional Network and Wound Care Management

In Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT), fluid and infection are drawn out from the wound to accelerate the healing process. Then a special bandage with a gentle vacuum pump is sealed over the wound.

This method is commonly used for long-lasting wounds such as pressure ulcers. Whether NPWT is beneficial for you depends on the type of wound and your medical condition.

Our experienced nurses at the Health & Care Professional Network Center have sufficient skills and certification to care for chronic wounds. If you live in Las Vegas and need to get these services at your place of residence, contact us or make an appointment online.

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