What are Pressure Sores?
Pressure sores are injuries that affect the skin and underlying tissue, when the affected area is placed under too much pressure.
Pressure sores can develop when a large amount of pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short amount of time, or when less force is applied over a longer period of time. The pressure disrupts the flow of blood through the skin, which starves it of oxygen and nutrients, leading to the formation of an ulcer.
How common are Pressure Sores?
Pressure sores affect people all over the world, and around half a million people in the UK will develop a pressure ulcer every year. People over 70 are particularly vulnerable to pressure ulcers.
What are the symptoms of Pressure Sores?
The parts of the body most at risk of pressure ulcers are those in direct contact with a supporting surface and without much body fat, such as the hips, buttocks, base of the spine, heels, ankles and shoulders.
A pressure sore may start as a red area of skin that does not disappear after a few hours. It may feel sore and tender and become painful and purple in colour. When tissue dies, an open sore may develop and become infected. In severe cases the fat and muscles layers may be so destructed that the bones are exposed.
How are Pressure Sores treated?
The most important factor in preventing pressure sores is encouraging a person to change their position regularly throughout the day.
Treatment of pressure sores includes relieving pressure and keeping the sore clean. Dressings are used to encourage healing and antibiotic therapy can treat infection. Removal of dead tissue, skin grafting and plastic surgery may also be required.
A healthy diet that includes plenty of vitamin C and zinc is important to maintain healthy skin and may help prevent pressure sores developing.
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