Sunday 17 September 2017

5 Facts Most Caregivers Don't Know About Pressure Sores

Pressure sores are a serious threat to the life and health of our loved ones. That's why I thought it was so important to publish a guest post on this issue. Thank you, Chris Palmer! 

Pressure sores or pressure ulcers are a result of staying in one position for an extended period. They are mostly formed where the bones are near the skin, e.g., elbows, hips, heels or at the base of the spine; and appear unexpectedly. Pressure sores can even cause life threatening infections and are especially common in patients who have limited mobility. Caregivers of loved ones who have limited mobility should perform a thorough skin check every day because pressure sores progress very quickly. 

1. There are 4 Stages in the Development of Pressure Sores
In the beginning, pressure sores are pink or red in color and sometimes are not prominent if the patient has a dark skin color. This is more like an innocuous change that is a warning which needs attention from a health care professional as soon as possible. This is known as Stage 1 by some physicians. 
Skin is not broken but is red or discolored or may show changes in hardness or temperature compared to surrounding areas. When you press on it, it stays red and does not lighten or turn white (blanch). The redness or change in color does not fade within 30 minutes after pressure is removed.

Stage 2 involves the skin breaking open and forming a tender, open sore. 
The topmost layer of skin (epidermis) is broken, creating a shallow open sore. The second layer of skin (dermis) may also be broken. Drainage (pus) or fluid leakage may or may not be present.

 In stage 3, the hollow is formed in the tissue when the pressure ulcer is lengthening into deeper layers of tissue under the skin. 

The wound extends through the dermis (second layer of skin) into the fatty subcutaneous (below the skin) tissue. Bone, tendon and muscle are not visible. Look for signs of infection( redness around the edge of the sore, pus, odor, fever, or greenish drainage from the sore) and possible necrosis (black, dead tissue).

In the last or 4th stage, the breakdown has reached the muscle and finally the bone, which can put the patient at risk for infection.

The wound extends into the muscle and can extend as far down as the bone. Usually lots of dead tissue and drainage are present. There is a high possibility of infection.

2. You Might Need the Help of a Wound Care Specialist               
Pressure sores are a serious threat to the health and even the life of your loved one. At the first sign of a pressure sore, it is important to have the advice and monitoring of a general practitioner. In more severe cases, your GP will refer you to a wound care specialist. These are medical professionals who are highly trained in the management and healing of both acute (such as surgical) as well as chronic (such as pressure sores) wounds. 

3. Repositioning is a Very Good Thing to Combat Pressure Sores
Repositioning is the most important action caregivers can take to prevent and heal pressure ulcers.  At the first sign of skin breakdown, it is essential to remove any object that might come into contact with the skin (even soft objects such as sheets, mattresses, blankets and pillows). 

What to do:

  • Stay off area and remove all pressure.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Eat adequate calories high in protein, vitamins (especially A and C) and minerals (especially iron and zinc).
  • Drink more water.
  • Find and remove the cause.
  • Inspect the area at least twice a day.
  • Call your health care provider if it has not gone away in 2-3 days.
4. To Heal Wounds, Patients Need to Eat... a Lot!

The nutritional needs of people with pressure wounds are very high. They may need extra protein, calories and vitamins and minerals to help their wounds heal. Consuming foods that assist healing and skin growth can definitely help or speed up the process of the recovery of a pressure sore. Foods that are rich in Vitamin A, E and C also are a great aid for the recovery of tissue. 

5. Really Bad Things Happen if You Don't Treat Pressure Sores

Left untreated, pressure sores can result in extremely serious complications. If you are concerned that your loved might have a pressure wound, call your family doctor immediately. 

    • Can be life threatening.
    • Infection can spread to the blood, heart and bone.
    • Amputations.
    • Prolonged bed rest that can keep you out of work, school and social activities for months.
    • Autonomic dysreflexia.
    • Because you are less active when healing a pressure sore, you are at higher risk for respiratory problems or urinary tract infections (UTIs).
    • Treatment can be very costly in lost wages or additional medical expenses.

About the Author:
This post is written by Chris Palmer who is a comedian and a public speaker. He writes about dementia and eldercare. Chris regularly blogs at


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