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What are pressure ulcers/ bed sores?


What are Pressure Ulcers?


Pressure ulcers, pressure sores or bedsores as they are sometimes called, can range from a small discoloured patch of skin to the most severe case where the skin is an open wound that can expose the underlying bone or muscle.

They can develop when the effected area is placed under too much pressure over a short period of time, or over a longer period when less pressure is applied. This extra pressure disrupts the flow of blood through the bodies skin and without this blood supply the effected area becomes starved of oxygen and nutrients and it begins to break down, this results in the formation of a bedsore/pressure ulcer.

People with some types of health issues and conditions ie: mobility problems and type 2 diabietes can be more suseptable to pressure ulcers.

They also effect 2 out of every 3 people over 70 years old, and this is due to certain factors such as, mobility, ageing skin and reduced blood supply.

Pressure ulcers are an underestimated health problem here in the uk and worldwide.  The estimation is that around half a million people in the uk alone will develop at least one ulcer in any one year, this is usually in people who have underlying health issues, and 1 out of every 20 people who are admitted to hospital with a sudden acute illness will develop an ulcer.

To healthcare professionals pressure ulcers are not only challenging to treat but are unnpleasant, and upsetting to the people suffering with them. The professional will therefore use different techniques to prevent them developing in the first place, this can include, changing a persons position on a regular basis,  specially designed mattresses and cushions that protect vulnerable parts of a body, special dressings, creams and gels that help to speed up the healing process and relieve pressure on the infected areas. However, sometimes even with the highest standards of clinical care it is unfortunately not always possible to prevent pressure ulcers forming in particulary vulnerable people.

For individuals with pressure ulcers the outlook will vary!  They could just be a minor inconvenience which only requires minor nursing care, but for others they can be very serious indeed that can lead to life threatening complications causing gangrene (body tissue begins to decay and die) and also blood poisoning.  In more serious cases surgery is sometimes recommended.