Filter Glossary


  • Overview


    Injuries to the skin and underlying tissue caused by prolonged pressure on the skin are known as bedsores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers. These sores usually develop on bony body parts, such as the hips, heels, tailbone, and ankles.

    Individuals with medical conditions that restrict their ability to change positions or spend most of their time in a bed or chair are at greater risk of developing bedsores.

    Bedsores can occur within hours or days and can be treated successfully. However, some may not heal completely. There are steps you can take to prevent bedsores and promote healing.

  • Symptoms


    Pressure ulcers or bedsores are at risk for:
    Atypical alterations in skin tone or texture.
    Pus-like swelling and drainage.
    A spot on the body’s surface that is colder or warmer to the touch than other delicate areas.

    Bedsores can be classified into phases based on their depth, severity, and other factors. The degree of skin and tissue damage can range from minor colour changes to severe injuries affecting bone and muscle.

    Common sites of pressure ulcers
    Bedsores frequently develop on the skin over the following locations in wheelchair users:
    Buttocks or the tailbone.
    Spine, shoulder blades.
    The backs of the arms and legs rest against the chair.

    Those who must remain in bed may get bedsores on:
    The shoulders, the sides or the rear of the head.
    The tailbone, lower back, or hip.
    The skin behind the knees, the heels, and the ankles.

  • When to see a doctor


    If you notice bedsores, try changing your position to relieve pressure. Contact your doctor if you don’t feel better within 1-2 days. Seek medical help immediately if you show signs of infection, such as fever, odour, discharge, skin colour changes, or swelling.

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  • Causes


    Bedsores occur when pressure is put on the skin, reducing blood flow to the area. Lack of movement can make the skin more susceptible to damage, ultimately causing the formation of bedsores.

    The following are the top three causes of bedsores:
    Pressure. Any region of your body can have its blood flow reduced by constant stress. For tissues to receive oxygen and other nutrients, blood flow is necessary. Skin and adjacent tissues suffer damage and may even perish without these vital nutrients.
    This type of pressure usually occurs in locations that lie over a bone and aren’t effectively padded by muscle or fat, such as the spine, tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, heels, and elbows, for persons with limited mobility.
    Friction. When skin rubs against clothing or bedding, conflict is created. It may increase the risk of harm in people with delicate skin, especially moist skin.
    Shear. When two surfaces move in opposite directions, shear happens. For instance, you can slip when a bed is raised at the head. The skin covering the tailbone may not move as the bone descends, effectively tugging in the opposite direction.

  • Risk factors


    If you find moving challenging and need help to shift positions while seated or in bed quickly, your chance of developing bedsores is higher. Risk elements consist of:
    Immobility. Inadequate health, spinal cord damage, and other factors could be to blame.
    Incontinence. Extended contact with urine and faeces makes skin more delicate.
    Sensory perception deficit. Spinal cord injury, neurological illnesses, and other conditions can bring on sensation loss. Not detecting pain or discomfort can make it challenging to recognise warning indications or the need to adjust one’s position.
    Inadequate hydration and nutrition. Their daily diets must contain adequate calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals to maintain good skin and stop tissue deterioration.
    Circumstances that impede blood flow. Blood flow-related health issues, like diabetes and vascular disease, might raise the risk of tissue damage, like bedsores.

  • Prevention


    It’s essential to regularly change your position to reduce pressure on your skin to prevent bedsores. Additionally, taking proper care of your skin, maintaining a healthy diet and staying hydrated, quitting smoking, managing stress, and engaging in daily exercise can also be effective strategies.
    Tips for repositioning
    Here are some suggestions for repositioning yourself while in bed or a chair:

    1. Move your weight around frequently. It’s a good idea to ask for assistance with transferring every hour.

    2. Try lifting yourself, if possible. If you have enough upper body strength, you can do wheelchair pushups by pushing on the arms of the chair to raise your body off the seat.

    3. Consider using a speciality wheelchair that allows you to tilt it, which can relieve pressure.

    4. Use cushions or a mattress that can help relieve pressure. You can also use pillows or a specialised bed to help position your body comfortably. Avoid using doughnut cushions, as they can increase pressure on surrounding tissue.

    5. Adjust the elevation of your bed. If your bed can be elevated at the head, raise it no more than 30 degrees to prevent shearing.
    Tips for skincare
    Here are some tips to help take care of your skin:
    Keep your skin clean and dry by washing it with a gentle cleanser and patting it dry. Doing this regularly can help limit your skin’s exposure to moisture, urine, and stool.
    Protect your skin using moisture barrier creams to shield it from urine and stool. If necessary, change your bedding and clothing frequently. Be mindful of buttons on clothing and wrinkles in bedding that may irritate your skin.
    Inspect your skin daily for any warning signs of a pressure sore. Take a close look to ensure your skin stays healthy.

  • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

Content Details

Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

Last updated on: 07/08/2023