Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores are wounds that develop when skin and tissues have prolonged pressure placed on them. They’re most common in areas of the body where bony pressure might exist, such as the elbows or knees, but they can occur anywhere pressure remains on the skin for too long.
Normally, people move around enough that they retain blood circulation throughout the body without issues. However, the elderly may not be able to move well on their own and need help shifting in bed or in a wheelchair, for example. If pressure remains on one part of the body for too long, that area of the skin may begin to die. As it does so, a sore develops.
It can take as little as a few hours for bedsores or pressure ulcers to begin to develop. While early stages usually heal with treatment, there can be cases so severe that they lead to sepsis and death.
Recognize the symptoms of bedsores
Bedsores have a few common symptoms that you should recognize. These include:
- Changes in the color or texture of the skin
- Tender areas of the skin
- Areas of the skin that feel hot or cool to the touch compared to surrounding areas
- Obvious sores
- Pus-like drainage from areas of the skin
Most bedsores develop slowly over time, but they will quickly worsen once the skin begins to die.
Where will you see most pressure ulcers?
The majority of pressure ulcers can be seen on the:
- Shoulder blades
- Backs of the arms and legs
Those who are bedbound may have additional sites of injury including the:
- Backs and sides of the head
- Shoulder blades
- Heels or ankles
- Area behind the knees
- Lower back
If you notice a bedsore developing, it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately.
Bedsores should not develop in a nursing home
Medical facilities and their staff members know what bedsores are and how to prevent them. These sores should not develop. If they do, they need to receive quick treatment. Failing to provide adequate care to prevent or treat bedsores may lead to serious injuries and an opportunity to make a claim for elder abuse or nursing home malpractice.