Bedsore Causes

Bedsores, which are also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores, are portions of skin that become damaged, mostly commonly due to continuous pressure on the area. These sores can range from reddening on the skin to open sores that cause damage all the way into the muscle and bone. Bedsores can be dangerous, so it is important that they are treated as soon as possible, and with proper care.

Causes of Bedsores

Bedsores are most often seen on areas that are bony, such as the heels, hips, elbows, and lower back. They can also occur in deep skin folds, or areas that are located beneath medical equipment that remains in place for extended periods. When bedsores occur, it is due to the pressure resulting in a lack of blood flow to the area.

There are several different causes of bedsores, including:

  • Friction burns that result from sliding across bedding or other materials
  • Shear force, which can happen when a patient slides down so that areas of the skin fold over
  • Breakdown in the skin that occurs due to frequent exposure to moisture, such as urine, feces or sweat that is not cleaned up quickly

Risk Factors

While bedsores can affect anyone who ends up in one of these situations, there are also several risk factors that increase the chances of developing a one. The risk of getting bedsores increases for those who:

  • Have limited mobility due to surgery, coma, paralysis, spinal injuries or other medical issues
  • Are at an advanced age due to the natural thinning of the skin. As the skin becomes less elastic and drier, it becomes easier to damage.
  • Suffer from poor nutrition, especially those who do not get enough protein in their diets to provide healthy skin
  • Are unable to control their bladder or bowels, which increases the likelihood of their skin being exposed to damp or wet conditions for extended periods.
  • Have diabetes or other health issues that affect healing
  • Smoke as it results in reduced blood flow and drying of the skin
  • Do not remain alert, whether due to medications or health issues

Bedsore Prevention

While there are several causes of bedsores, it is important that certain steps be taken in order to avoid them or prevent them from becoming worse.

For those who are able to move on their own, make sure they know the importance of moving at least every two hours. They will also have to make sure they are not twisting, folding or rubbing the skin in the process. People who are in wheelchairs should also shift themselves every 15 minutes to ensure they are not keeping all their weight on a single area. It is also recommended that anyone who is at risk of bedsores be allowed to sleep in a recliner or in a bed in a reclined position.

It is also important for these things to be done for those who are unable to move themselves. When moving elders, care must be taken not to pull or push them across the bedding as much as possible to ensure there is no stretching or tearing of the skin. By following these precautions and adding a healthy diet, the chances of a bedsore occurring should be minimized. If these steps aren’t taken, and a bedsore occurs, proper treatment must occur as quickly as possible. Pressure ulcers that are in the early stages can often be treated fairly easily. However, those that do not receive proper treatment can become a major health problem, with some becoming bad enough that they result in death due to the severity of the wound.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/pressure-sores-topic-overview?page=1

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Pressure-ulcers/Pages/Causes.aspx

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