Pressure ulcers, also known as pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, and bedsores, are injuries to the skin and the underlying tissue. Primarily caused by prolonged pressure on the skin secondary to prolonged lying down or sitting, the skin condition usually develops on skin that covers bony prominences in the  body. These include the ankles, heels, tailbone, and the hips.

Physiology

Pressure ulcers develop when, as the name implies, a huge amount of pressure is applied to the skin surface for a certain period of time. As per NHS UK, the extra pressure interferes with the blood flow in the skin. As a result, the skin becomes deprived of oxygen and nutrients and begins to break down and form an ulcer.

Prevention

Check the Body

Preventing pressure ulcers seems easier than treating them. According to Medline Plus, this can be done by checking the body daily from head to toe, with special attention given to areas with high risk of pressure ulcer formation. These body areas include the knees, heels and ankles, hips, tailbone area, shoulder blades, spine, back of the head, elbows and the ears. Thus, the carer should watch out for early signs of pressure ulcers, which include skin redness, warm areas, spongy or hard skin, and breakdown of the top layers of the skin.

Mechanical Loading

Mechanical loading, which includes turning and positioning the person, helps prevent the formation of pressure ulcers because less amount of pressure is placed on the skin. As per NCBI, research found that older adults turned every two to three hours had fewer pressure ulcers, as compared to those that were not. Also, a sum of 80 to 90 percent of survey participants agreed that turning every two hours was the accepted standard that prevents complications.

Nutrition

The skin needs nutrients and oxygen to stay healthy. In terms of nutrition, the person should eat a healthy and balanced diet; it should be rich in protein, zinc, as well as vitamin C to prevent skin damage and in case, hasten the healing process. According to NHS UK, a person with a reduced appetite due to a pre-existing health condition may try eating smaller meals throughout the day, instead of consuming two or three large meals in a day. As per the publication, a timetable may be used. It includes the time of the meals, which ensures that the person gets the nutrients that he needs.

Pressure ulcers reduce the comfort level of a person and they also increase a person’s risk for infection. Thus, preventing them is better than waiting them to appear in the body.

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