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    Preventing Bed Sores

    What is a Bed Sore?

    Pressure Ulcers are commonly known as bed sores. They are very serious and should not be ignored.

    When a person stays in one position for too long without moving, the skin can break down and become a wound called a bed sore. Too much moisture on the skin can also contribute.

    Preventing Bed Sores

    A pressure ulcer (bed sore) happens when areas of the skin or the tissue underneath are injured from unrelieved pressure. This pressure squeezes tiny blood vessels which supply the skin with nutrients and oxygen. When the skin is starved for too long, the tissue dies and a pressure ulcer forms. Skin reddening that disappears after pressure is removed is normal and not a pressure ulcer.

    Other things can cause pressure ulcers such as sliding down in a bed or chair. This causes the blood vessels to stretch or bend.

    Damage can range from a change in the color of unbroken skin to severe, deep wounds, which can go to the muscle or bone.

    Pressure ulcers form where bone cause the greatest force on the skin and tissue and squeeze them against an outside surface such as a bed or chair.

    For people who stay in bed, most pressure ulcers form on the lower back below the waist, the hip bone and heels.

    For people in chairs or wheelchairs, the exact spot where pressure ulcers form depends on the sitting position. Pressure ulcers can also form on the knees, ankles, shoulder blades, back of the head and spine.

    When in a chair follow these guidelines

    • When sitting, maintain good posture and keep upright. A good position will allow you to move more easily.
    • If you cannot move yourself, have someone help you change your position at least every hour.
    • If you can move yourself, shifting your weight every 15 minutes is even better.
    Changing your body position often - at least every hour while sitting in a chair and at least every two hours while lying in bed - will help prevent pressure ulcers.

    Your skin should be inspected at least once a day. Pay special attention to any reddened areas that remain after you have changed positions. Your skin should be cleaned as soon as it is soiled. Use a soft cloth or sponge to reduce injury to skin.

    If you have more questions about pressure ulcers, please ask your nurse.

    When you are in bed follow these guidelines

    • Change position at least every two hours.
    • When lying on your back, keep your heels up off the bed by placing a pillow under your legs. Do not place the pillow under knees when you’re on your back because this could reduce blood flow to your lower leg.
    • Do not use donut-shaped cushions because they reduce blood flow to the tissue.