Pressure Sores – What they are and how to prevent them from developing

Thursday, 29 November 2012  |  Naomi

Pressure sores are common in people who are sitting or lying down for extended periods of time. Also known as pressure ulcers, a pressure sore is a result of pressure on the skin or a combination of pressure and friction. Pressure sores or bed sores range in severity and are more common on certain parts of the body such as the heels, hips, ankles, sacrum, coccyx and elbows. Pressure sores occur when the extra pressure on the skin disrupts the blood flow. Without a supply of blood, the area is starved of oxygen and nutrients resulting in the formation of an ulcer.

Pressure ulcers can occur in a variety of situations and there are conditions where people are at a higher risk of developing a pressure sore. The main condition which can lead to a pressure sore is immobility. The conditions can also lead to a higher risk of developing pressure sores:

        Alzheimer’s disease
Heart failure
Diabetes mellitus
Parkinson’s disease
Rheumatoid arthritis

It is important to treat a pressure sore as soon as possible and take steps to prevent them from developing. The most important change to be made in the prevention of pressure sores is encouraging the patient to change their position regularly. With a lot of patients who are at a high risk of developing pressure sores, moving themselves may not be possible and they will need help being moved. It is recommended that patients at high risk of developing pressure sores are moved at 2 hour intervals.

Specialist pressure sore cushions and pressure sore mattresses are available to help decrease the risk of pressure ulcers developing. Alternating mattresses, also known as air flow mattresses, circulate air inside the mattress so the pressure is distributed evenly and pressure is not concentrated on one area of the body. The Harvest Cavalier is an air alternating pressure relief mattress system designed for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores. Alternating air flow pressure relief mattresses are commonly used in hospitals, care homes and hospices as well as domestic environments.

If a patient is able to sit on a chair during the day then air alternating chair cushions are also available. The BOS Stratus Alternating Air Pressure Relief Cushion System is designed to provide pressure relief to patients at a high risk of developing pressure sores.

It is important to regularly inspect areas that are at high risk of developing pressure sores to detect early signs of a pressure sore developing. The area should be kept clean and dry and a healthy diet is important to maintain healthy skin.