Pressure Ulcers/Decubitus Ulcers
Frequently Asked Questions
What are pressure and decubitus ulcers?
A pressure ulcer, also known as a decubitus ulcer, is an injury to the skin or tissue over an area. A pressure ulcer is also called a pressure sore or bedsore. Pressure ulcers can form over any boney area but are most common on the back, buttocks, hip, and heels.
What causes pressures ulcers?
- Continuous pressure – staying in one position for long periods of time can cause tissue damage.
- Shearing or Friction – this happens when delicate skin is dragged across a surface or bedsheets. This may cause skin to tear or a blister to form.
What increases my risk for pressure ulcers?
- Long periods of time without moving
- Short periods of increased pressure, such as sitting in a wheelchair
- Not being able to control your urine or bowel movements
- Dehydration or poor nutrition
- Poor blood flow to your limbs
- More than 65 years of age
- Previous pressure ulcer
How is a pressure ulcer treated?
- Bandages: a strip of material that is used to protect or bind a wound
- Debridement: the removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound
- Medication: an ointment or pill that your physician deems necessary for your healing (i.e., antibiotics)
- Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT): a therapeutic vacuum dressing that promotes wound healing
- Offloading: reducing pressure on a wounded body area and not bearing weight on it
- Surgery: the use of special instruments to treat bodily wounds via incisions
- Skin Care: Cleanse with mild soap, use warm (not hot) water for bathing, rinse well, dry all skin folds/creases, moisturize after cleansing, wear soft clothing.
How do I care for my skin?
- Clean and cover your wound as instructed
- Keep your skin clean, dry and moisturized
- Protect the skin over boney areas (i.e., use pillows or foam wedges to relieve pressure)
When should I contact my health care provider?
- If you have a fever
- If you have green or yellow drainage or a bad smell coming from your pressure ulcer
- If you have an area on your skin that is very red and firm
- If you have a new pain that is getting worse
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