Published on:

Pressure Ulcers (Part II)

Treatment:

  • Treatment of pressure ulcer starts by identifying and managing the underlying cause.
  • Relieving pressure by changing position and using pressure relieving mattresses or cushion is important for healing.
  • The treatment of a pressure ulcer depends on the stage of the ulcer. When the skin is intact, removing the pressure will allow the pressure ulcer to heal.
  • Pain medication may be used when the pressure ulcer is painful.
  • When the skin is broken, the protective barrier is no longer present leading to an increased risk of infection; antibiotics may be used when there are signs of infection (see wound infection).
  • When dead tissue is present, it should be removed by debridement as dead tissue increases the risk of infection and interferes with healing.
  • Cleansing the wound and dressing changes are important in decreasing infection.
  • Special dressings can be used to promote healing of pressure ulcers.
  • Deep ulcers especially those beyond stage 2 may be difficult to treat and if they are deep, they may require surgical repair.
  • Transplanting healthy skin to the affect area may be needed in some cases (see skin graft).
  • Topical negative pressure therapy (suction) may be used in some cases.
  • Your health care provider will decide what the best treatment options for you are and will assess the healing progress.
  • Healing time varies from days to months and some may not heal especially when there is an associated illness.

Prevention:

  • Frequent changes in the patient’s position, turning them every 2 hours in bed and every 30 to 60 minutes in a chair.
  • Checking the skin every day for redness, bruises and blisters and documenting the findings.
  • Keep the skin clean and avoiding dryness by using moisturizers.
  • Adequate fluids, protein, vitamins and minerals should be encouraged and correction of malnutrition when present.
  • Using foam cushions or pads or other supporting devices on the beds and chairs, ask your healthcare provider about the one that is suitable for you. Donut shaped cushions are not recommended as they may interfere with the flow of blood.

Complications of pressure ulcers:

  • Septicemia which is spread of infection from an infected ulcer to the blood.
  • Bone infection (osteomyelitis) from an infected ulcer.
  • Amputation of the limb in severe cases.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.