Debra Wood, RN
A pressure sore is a lesion that develops on the skin and underlying tissues due to unrelieved pressure. The skin and tissues need enough blood supply for oxygen and nutrients. When tissues are compressed for an extended period from hours to days, blood supply can be cut off, leading to a sore.
Pressure sores result from lying or sitting in one position for too long a time. Prolonged pressure cuts off the blood supply to tissues that are compressed between a bony area and a mattress, chair, or other object. Without oxygen and nutrients, the tissue starts to die.
Several factors contribute to the development of pressure sores including:
Factors that increase your risk of pressure sores include:
Symptoms of a pressure ulcer may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Pressure sores are staged according to the depth and tissues that are involved.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Treatment aims to relieve pressure on the area, heal the wound, avoid complications, and prevent future pressure sores. In many cases, a caregiver will provide care for your pressure sores.
Clean soiled skin after each bowel movement and urination. Wash with mild soap and warm water. Rinse well. Pat dry. Do not rub. Apply lotion as recommended by the doctor.
You or your caregiver will be taught how to tend to the wound. Some basic instructions include:
Eat a well-balanced meal. Your doctor may recommend vitamins, minerals, or supplements.
The doctor may surgically remove dead tissue. Skin grafts may be needed. In some situations, electrotherapy may be used to stimulate blood flow and promote healing.
If you are diagnosed with pressure sores, follow your doctor's
Most pressure ulcers can be prevented. Suggestions include:
American Academy of Family Physicians
National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel
Canadian Family Physician
Pressure ulcer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 22, 2013. Accessed December 16, 2013.
Pressure ulcer category/staging illustrations. National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel website. Available at: http://www.npuap.org/resources/educational-and-clinical-resources/pressure-ulcer-categorystaging-illustrations/. Accessed December 16, 2013.
5/27/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: McInnes E, Jammali-Blasi A, Bell-Syer S, Dumville J, Cullum N. Support surfaces for pressure ulcer prevention.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
11/25/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance.
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Moore ZE, Webster J. Dressings and topical agents for preventing pressure ulcers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Aug 18;8.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Peter Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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