What is a pressure ulcer?
A pressure ulcer is an injury to the skin and the tissue below it. It is caused by pressure, rubbing or friction. It happens when a person sits or lies down for a long time without moving. Pressure ulcers form when the skin is pressed against a bone. Pressure ulcers can cause pain and scaring. They might drain a little or a lot. They can get in the way of daily living.
Where can pressure ulcers form?
Pressure ulcers can form all over the body. They are often found on the back, hipbone, and heels. Those in wheelchairs may have ulcers form behind the knees and ankles. They also may form behind the shoulder blades, elbows, back of the head, and spine.
How can I prevent a pressure ulcer in a family member or myself?
Encourage good nutrition. Drink plenty of water. Keep your ulcer clean from urine and stool. It will help your ulcer heal. Perform the wound care the doctor ordered.
Call your doctor if you see any of the following:
- Increase in redness
- Drainage that smells bad or begins to change color
- Temperature over 101
- A new wound
Other ways to prevent pressure ulcers
- A lotion can be used on dry areas. Do not put lotion between the toes. Do not rub or massage lotion into reddened areas.
- Areas of the body should be looked at daily. Pay attention to red areas. Pay attention to open areas. Look at skin covering bony areas.
- Protect skin from dryness or too much moisture.
- Apply moisturizers to keep the skin from getting too dry.
- Use pads to absorb wetness away from the skin.
- Clean the skin as soon as possible after soiling from urine or stool.
- Apply barrier creams to protect skin from urine, stool, or drainage.
- Turn and reposition when in bed. Choose how often you turn based on any red areas on skin. Also, consider if you are using a special mattress or seat pad and your preferences.
- Do not drag the body across the sheets or pull on the skin.
- Ask your doctor or nurse to show you how to make and use a “draw” sheet.
- Keep body parts from rubbing together by using pillows or wedges. For example, between the knees and ankle bones.
- Use a special mattress or cushion to help lower pressure.
- Do not use donut-shaped cushions when sitting.
- Eat a well balanced diet that gives you enough calories and protein.
- Ask your doctor about nutritional supplements.
- Off load- place the body so that there is no pressure on the ulcer.
Do pressure ulcers heal? What can I do to make a pressure ulcer heal faster?
Pressure ulcers can heal. Healing an ulcer requires hard work and dedication. A wound may not start to heal in two weeks. It may not completely heal in six weeks. These wounds may need special wound care like the care provided at Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine at CMC. It can take a team of health care workers like ours to access your health and medications and develop a plan to make your ulcer heal.
What can a treatment plan include?
Treatment for pressure ulcers includes the same steps to prevent them. Care includes keeping pressure off the ulcer. A good diet is important. The plan may include cleaning the ulcer and removing dead skin. You may place a dressing or bandage on the ulcer to protect the area while it heals.
Your doctor will give you instructions on how to:
- Care for the ulcer
- Eat well
- Remove pressure
What if the Ulcer Does Not Heal?
Your doctor may start other treatments. You may require special devices to help heal the ulcer or surgery may be done to help repair the ulcer. In most cases, if proper treatment plans are followed, healing will take place.
A Healing Touch
The Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine at Conway Medical Center has been providing a healing touch to patients suffering from a variety of wounds for many years. Every patient’s wound is unique and we’ll help educate you on your wound and your plan for healing. For more information call 843-347-8347.
Source: Healogics, Inc. “Patient Ed-Pressure Ulcers Hndt 5/16 v002”