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Pressure Sores

Pressure sores (bed ulcers) are areas of damaged skin caused by staying in one position for too long. They commonly form where your bones are close to your skin, such as your ankles, back, elbows, heels and hips. You are at risk if you are bedridden, use a wheelchair, or are unable to change your position. Pressure sores can cause serious infections, some of which are life-threatening. They can be a problem for people in nursing homes.

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Pressure sores are grouped by their severity. Stage I is the earliest stage. Stage IV is the worst.
  • Stage I: A reddened area on the skin that, when pressed, does not turn white. This is a sign that a pressure ulcer is starting to develop.
  • Stage II: The skin blisters or forms an open sore. The area around the sore may be red and irritated.
  • Stage III: The skin now develops an open, sunken hole called a crater. There is damage to the tissue below the skin.
  • Stage IV: The pressure ulcer has become so deep that there is damage to the muscle and bone, and sometimes to tendons and joints.
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If you have a bed sore it should be examined by a specialized plastic surgeon as soon as possible after it appears and then again at regular intervals. The plastic surgeon will understand what caused it record where it is, its size and what it looks like and grade your pressure ulcer according to how deep it is. He will also check for signs of infection, such as discolouration, swelling, heat and odour, and find out how much pain the ulcer is causing.

The first step in the treatment is to relieve the pressure on the ulcer, by changing position and using supports, such as a special mattress or cushion. Your bed sorer may need other treatments to help it heal. Treatments include dressings, removing damaged skin and other methods of promoting healing. Sometimes, even with the best treatment, pressure ulcers may not heal. If your pressure ulcer does not heal properly you may be advised to have a reconstructive surgery to help close the wound. 
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