Pressure sores can cause serious infections, some of which can be life threatening.
They are usually associated with someone who is bed-ridden but they frequently occur when the person does not move around much and spends long periods sitting or lying in one position – perhaps with their back against a cushion or feet resting on a foot-stool. Different parts of the body can be affected:
- The back of arms or legs where they rest against the chair in which the person sits
- Heels and ankles
- Buttocks or lower back
- Sides of the head, ears
- Shoulder blades.
Suspect and look for a pressure sore if the person complains of pain in one area.
The person may sit in the same chair in one position for long periods. They should shift body position every ten or fifteen minutes. People at increased risk are those with:
- Mobility problems – perhaps due to painful arthritis they like to stay in one position
- A poor diet – they often have insufficient fluid in the body or difficulty swallowing food
- Health conditions such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, heart or kidney failure, or incontinence.
Warning signs that pressure sores are developing include:
- Changes in the colour of the skin
- An area of skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas
- Tender areas
What to do
Prevent sores by encouraging your loved one to move around more – perhaps use different chairs to sit in at different times. Keep skin clean and dry – especially important if the person experiences any incontinence. If you suspect a sore is developing, make sure the person changes position to relieve pressure on that area. If you don’t see improvement within a couple of days contact their doctor. Immediate medical care is needed if there are any signs of infection such as drainage from a sore, increased redness, warmth or swelling around affected area.
For further information about pressure sores go to http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Pressure-ulcers/Pages/Introduction.aspx
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