Pressure Ulcers – Dangers If Left Untreated
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Pressure ulcers or bedsores are areas of breakdown in the skin. This usually occurs over areas where there is little cushion between the bone and the skin, commonly the tailbone, the heels, and the hips. Pressure ulcers can develop even with the best of care. There are many risk factors for the development of pressure ulcers including immobility and debilitating illness. If left untreated, pressure sores are extremely difficult to heal and may even lead to death.
What Is Pressure Ulcers?
Pressure ulcers are injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. They are most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone. A pressure sore might be painful.
- Immobility – patients who spend most of their time in a bed or chair
- Patients with a medical condition that limits their ability to change positions
- Malnutrition, dehydration – can lead to skin thinning and poor blood supply, meaning that skin is more fragile
- Diabetes, vascular disease
- Urinary and fecal incontinence – skin exposed to urine or feces is more susceptible to irritation and damage
Stages Of Pressure Sores
- Stage 1 – Skin is not broken but is red or discolored. When you press on it, it stays red and does not lighten or turn white (blanch).
- Stage 2 – The topmost layer of skin is broken, creating a shallow open sore. No blisters.
- Stage 3 – The wound extends through the dermis (second layer of skin) into the fatty subcutaneous tissue.
- Stage 4 – The wound extends into the muscle and can extend as far down as the bone.
Moreover, there is a pressure sore called deep tissue injury (DTI). Deep tissue injury is purple or maroon localized area of discolored intact skin or blood-filled blister due to damage of underlying soft tissue from pressure or shear. The area may be surrounded by tissue that is painful.
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