Bedsores are areas of the skin that been cut off from blood supply, resulting in painful, visible skin damage. Mild bed sores can usually heal in a couple of weeks, but severe bed sores are slow to resolve and can lead to fatal complications. Bed sores form in different stages and can rapidly progress. For this reason, it’s crucial to start treatment early to prevent further damage.
What Are Bed Sores?
Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, are areas of damaged skin caused from continuous pressure or friction. Bed sores develop in four distinct stages. The first stage is marked by reddened, warm, or itchy skin. In stage two, an open sore or blister that is painful to the touch is common. Stage three bed sores usually resemble small craters and fat deposits are sometimes visible. In stage four, the muscle, tendons or bones may be exposed. This level of damage sometimes requires surgery to fix.
If blood circulation is cut off for more than two to three hours, a patient is at risk of forming bed sores. Bedsores are prevalent in nursing homes and intensive care units, where patients spend long periods of time in one position. Anyone that is bedridden, in a wheelchair, or unable to change their position is at risk. Bed sores typically develop in places where the bone meets the skin, such as the elbows, ankles, hips, knees and tailbone.
Tips for Prevention
To minimize the risk of bedsores, it’s important to change positions every two hours to relieve pressure on the body. Alleviate pressure using pillows or foam pads. Existing wounds that are mild should be cleaned with gentle soap and water and carefully dried. Those with incontinence must ensure that their skin is kept clean and dry as often as possible.
Severe wounds may require dressing, antibiotics or even surgical procedures to remove dead tissue. There is a procedure known as vacuum-assisted therapy that makes use of a suction tube to draw out moisture from bed sores. The removal of moisture can accelerate healing time and decrease the risk of a skin infection.