Pressure ulcers are chronic wounds caused by lack of movement. The pressure, which accumulates on a particular point where the skin layer overlaps a prominent bone, such as the connection between the buttocks and the lower back or the heel area, creates constant friction between the skin and the bone and stops the flow of blood (and oxygen) to that point. As a result, a wound is created with characteristics of necrosis.
- Points in the body that are sensitive to the development of pressure ulcers
Within just two hours of immobility, pressure sores can develop.
Almost always, those who suffer from pressure ulcers are people with limited mobility or feeling. A healthy person will move his body and stimulate circulation almost instinctively, even during sleep. But a disabled person in a wheelchair or an elderly person with impaired mobility may find himself in a stationary position for long periods and may develop a pressure wound. Sometimes just two hours of concentrated pressure on an area such as the tailbone is enough to cause a pressure wound to develop. Getting rid of it is another story altogether.
It is not a coincidence that most cases of pressure ulcers occur in elderly people over 70 with background diseases. At these ages, the skin tissue suffers from natural thinning, and blood flow to and from it is inadequate. Nutrition issues common with seniors and loss of proteins (which harms muscle tissue) are also catalysts for the process. When you add to this background problems such as diabetes, the path to the appearance of chronic ulcers can be very short. Lack of attention after routine medical treatment, which requires several hours of recovery in a stationary position, is all that a pressure wound needs to flourish.
What does a pressure wound mean for the patient?
But why are we so anxious about pressure sores, what is the big deal? Essentially, pressure sores are inflammatory wounds that cause great suffering to the patient. Any contact with such a wound is very painful and makes it difficult for a person to function.
At the medical level, a pressure wound is a dangerous source of infection that can spread. The transition to necrosis may endanger the patient’s life immediately, and antibiotic treatment is often needed, which weakens the patient and may contribute to medical deterioration.
Because pressure ulcers are usually associated with other complex medical conditions, it is difficult to assess their contribution to the overall medical situation. However, there are quite a few cases in which pressure sores directly contribute to the death of a patient. The conclusion is that it is best to do everything possible to prevent their appearance. Although this is a common phenomenon, it can be avoided.
Levels of pressure sores:
The severity of the pressure sores is divided into 4 stages.
Stage 1 – a superficial wound that began to appear in the upper layer of the skin
Stage 2 – a deeper wound that reaches the middle layer of the skin
Stage 3 – a yet deeper wound that reaches the subcutaneous layer of the skin
Stage 4 – a wound that penetrates to the bone/muscle
Additional medical classifications:
1 – A wound that begins in the deep layers of the skin and spreads into the upper layers
2 – A wound whose level cannot be determined because of scabs or tissue covering the wound
How can pressure sores be prevented?
As mentioned above, the best way to deal with pressure sores is to prevent them from developing at all. In this context, it is better to apply a holistic approach that begins at the macro level.
Exercise is always recommended when conditions allow. In addition, a balanced diet rich in protein and vitamins may reduce the risk. Here, the recommendation is to consult a nutritionist who specializes in geriatric problems.
Without a doubt, the family, the personal therapist, and care-giving staff play a critical role in the supportive environment of the patient. Their diligence in changing the position of the patient every few hours may prevent the appearance of the lesions. Even laying the patient at an angle of 30 degrees reduces the burden of the lower back areas prone to pressure sores.
A supportive environment can help the patient to better maintain personal hygiene. Dirt and residue secretions stimulate skin irritation, which stimulates the inflammatory process. Overly dry skin may be problematic and therefore it is customary to lubricate certain areas of the patient’s body. It is also important to make a regular check of the patient’s body and call the medical staff whenever a suspicious sign is detected. Sometimes there are early signs and prompt identification of a lesion in formation may help to deal with it.
In addition, there are a number of mattresses designed for the prevention and relief of pressure sores. We will discuss them later in a separate section.
How are pressure ulcers treated?
Even with all the attention to and awareness of the problem and its implications, sometimes pressure sores are unavoidable. The bad news is that the recovery from stress wounds is long and in many cases, it is a chronic condition that will accompany the patient until his death and unfortunately may be a catalyst in the deterioration leading to death.
The good news is that when properly treated and by taking appropriate precautions, wounds can be prevented and even treated after they have developed. Since pressure ulcers will usually be associated with a background disease, treatment must be systemic. Some treatments focus on underlying diseases, such as diabetes, which is a catalyst for the appearance of lesions. There are medications that can improve blood flow to the area and will help in recovery, and there is antibiotic treatment if the wound is infected. In addition, direct care is given to the wound itself, which includes cleaning, replacing bandages, preventing dehydration, and, in severe cases, surgical intervention.
Because in most cases, pressure ulcers become a chronic problem, a major part of treatment will be supportive, including pain relief, nutritional balance, and of course frequent changes in posture and the use of pressure reduction aids. When talking about pressure reduction, it is important to emphasize the air mattresses and pillows specifically developed to relieve the discomfort of the sores, prevent the appearance of new ones, and even help with recovery.
Mattresses and pillows are a vital part of prevention and treatment of pressure sores.
In recent years, mattresses have been developed with innovative technology that helps prevent the appearance of pressure sores and helps to relieve patient suffering. The unique ergonomic structure of the mattresses allows for a uniform dispersion of body weight. These mattresses are made of breathable material and know how to adapt themselves optimally to the body.
Other accessories that use this technology to disperse body weight more evenly are special cushions designed to deal with wounds in different locations. Both the mattresses and pillows can alleviate the discomfort of wounds of varying degrees of severity and stages of development. It is important to note that pillows and mattresses have an important role to play in preventing this phenomenon, so when a person becomes at risk for developing pressure sores, it is recommended to purchase such accessories after consultation with a physician or rehabilitation specialist and to tailor them to each patient.
These accessories can be purchased at suppliers specializing in medical and rehabilitation equipment. Yad Sarah also has a wide range of mattresses and pillows for the treatment and prevention of pressure ulcers, and its representatives will be happy to assist you and answer any questions.