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Introduction      |    Causes      |    Stages     |    Symptoms      |    Treatment     |    Prevention

Decubitus or Pressure Ulcer – also known as Bedsore, is an open wound on the skin. Decubitus Ulcers are injuries that occur on the skin near bony projections due to friction or dry skin. They are common among people who have restricted mobility such as bed-ridden people, people who use wheelchairs, etc. When the skin comes under pressure, it causes the blood vessels to not reach a specific region thus damaging soft tissue. If left untreated, ulcers can lead to complications such as infections, anemia, gangrene, etc.

What are the common parts or areas of your body to develop Bedsores?

The most common sites for a decubitus ulcer to grow on a human body are:

  • Hip area
  • Shoulder blades and Back
  • Buttocks
  • Ankles and Heel
  • Tailbone
  • Elbows

Who is at risk of Decubitus Ulcers

Decubitus Ulcer is common in following conditions:

  1. Limited Mobility: Some individuals are restricted to move due to a medical condition while some cannot move due to a permanent ability issue. Restriction in changing positions while lying or sitting can cause bedsores
  2. Poor Nutrition: Good nutrition is always important with proper water-intake. Lack of water can cause digestion issues which ultimately affects an idle body to develop pressure ulcers
  3. Fragile Skin-type: Fragile skin in combination with limited mobility is an easy entry gate for decubitus ulcers. Constant pressure can tear the skin and discolor it to cause decubitus
  4. Old Age: Many people get bed-ridden in old age and their body loses strength to stay active and mobile as it used to be
  5. Unhealthy Lifestyle: Immobile life style, unhygienic state of body, and lack of activities are the major reason for health issues. People spend hours lying in bed with their cellphones or watching television and develop bedsores.
  6. Incontinence: Urinary incontinence as well as bowel incontinence can make the perineal skin extremely sensitive & prone to infections and bedsores.

What causes Pressure Ulcers to develop?

Decubitus Ulcers or Pressure ulcers, as stated above, are most common among people with limited mobility due to various reason, be it a medical condition or a poor lifestyle. Let’s have a quick overview of 5 main causes of Pressure Ulcers-

  1. External Pressure - Any kind of external pressure over a long period of time can cause a shortage of blood flow to a specific soft tissue causing the development of ulcers.
  2. Friction - The second most common cause of decubitus is friction, where the skin on constant heat generated by friction can get ruptured and cause soft tissue damage.
  3. Shear - In layman terms, shearing is the separation of the skin from underlying tissue causing the tissue to be exposed to external pressure, which in turn results in ulcers.
  4. Bad Nutrition- A malnourished body has a weak wound healing capacity which leads to frequent development of pressure ulcers and other graver problems.
  5. Moisture - Sweat, urine, and other moisture inducing factors can result in the skin getting macerated hence increasing the chances of friction and ulcers.

How diabetes can increase the risk of Pressure Ulcers?

Diabetes is associated with nerve damage and poor blood circulation. Nerve damage can cause diminishing sensation. When an individual is not able to feel the pressure sensation, he will not find the need to move or change positions which can ultimately cause bedsores or pressure ulcers. Additionally, diabetes impacts negatively on the wound healing capacity of the body which also increases the chances of a person getting infected by decubitus ulcers more often than a non-diabetic patient. Adding adequate amounts of fruits, proteint, carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals packed food item can give a much needed boost to the wound healing. Similarly, it can also help in fastening the treatment & prevention of pressure ulcers.


What are the 4 stages of decubitus ulcers or bedsores?

Decubitus affects a person at different stages. As the stages increase the severity also increases. Following are the 4 stages of Decubitus Ulcer-

  • Stage 1 Decubitus Uclers- In this stage the discoloration of skin begins, varying from red, blue, or purple. The skin might also be a little warmer and inflamed. The treatment at this stage is not complicated. One can begin with removing pressure from the area and using extra padding around them while sitting or sleeping in bed. Keep the area dry & clean, always stay hydrated and eat woundcare nutrition food items that are packed with protein and calcium. Stage 1 Decubitus Ulcers heal within 2-3 days.
  • Stage 2 Decubitus Uclers- In stage 2, the skin begins breaking and displaying some skin erosion. A blister might be formed containing fluid. The stage marks the death of tissues, the area affected may be swollen, turn red in color, and even feel itchy or sore. At this point, the patient may need medical attention. The doctor may advise the patient to apply a foam dressing or a hydrocolloid dressing after the wound site is cleaned properly. Typically, stage 2 Decubitus Ulcers take 1-3 weeks to heal completely.
  • Stage 3 Decubitus Uclers- At this point, the ulcer becomes deeper, and begins entering the flesh or fat layer making a crater-like wound. A pressure sore that has developed into stage 3 decubitus ucler marks the breaking of the first two protective layers of the skin. Now the bedsore has gotten into the fatty tissues of the skin. The skin appears sore, reddish in color, pus is visible and discolored discharge is also spotted. Stage 3 Ulcers require immediate medical attention. In this stage, the doctor may initiate an antibiotic therapy along with some prescribed skincare products such as antiseptic ointments and skin soothing gels and the patient maybe advised to change their mattresses. Ulcers at this stage may need 3-4 months to heal.
  • Stage 4 Decubitus Uclers- Now the ulcer has reached the muscles and bone, and has turned into a full-fledged wound. The chances of graver skin infection are the highest in this stage and therefore quick and adequate medical care is a must. Stage 4 Decubitus Ulcers may require surgery and will take a longer period to heal properly. Usually, a wound of this nature needs years to heal. 

What are the symptoms of Pressure Ulcers or Decubitus?

Decubitus ulcers are diagnosed by the assessment of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Reddness
  • Sore Skin
  • Pus-like draining from skin
  • Cooler or warmer patches on skin
  • Tenderness
  • Change of color of skin
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Open skin and infection

How to treat a Decubitus Ulcer?

The treatment includes cleaning the woundsite, dressing changes, removing pressure from the wound area, and certain diet changes. The treatment of decubitus requires the use of a dressing to cover the wound and help in natural healing of the ulcer. These dressings are -

  • Wound Dressings - An ulcer can be easily treated by using the right kind of wound dressing, which includes patches, alginate dressings, hydrocolloid dressings, antimicrobial dressings, etc. Unlike other wounds, pressure ulcers require different types of wound dressings at different stages, for instance stage 1 decubitus ulcers require transparent film.
  • Antiseptic Creams and Solutions - These anti-microbial creams can help clean the wound and eliminate any microbes, thus reducing the chances of infections. Sometimes, combining two different dressings can also help make the wound healing process get faster.
  • Hydrogel Sheets - These hydrogel dressings work as dressings and also as a covering, protecting the wound from external contaminates and also expediting the healing process.

When to call Doctor?

Call your medical professional immediately when-

  • Pressure sores or ulcers becomes severe that they are not able to heal on their own
  • Minor decubitus ulcers are unable to heal with regular bedsore special gels and wound dressings
  • The tissue around the ulcer is infected

In severe cases, damaged tissue must be debrided, or removed by surgical means otherwise the surrounding tendon, bone, muscles, and ligaments will also damage.

How to prevent Pressure Ulcers?

  1. Bedridden individuals should shift position at regular intervals to redistribute the body weight in the other parts of body
  2. Use of air-filled pressure sensitive pillows or special mattresses such as water or gel mattresses
  3. People using wheelchairs or power chairs can use a pressure-relieving pillow and change position frequently
  4. Proper hygiene is important for skin, and the bedding need to be kept clean and dry
  5. Regular visual inspection for the signs of pressure sores or decubitus in vulnerable areas is necessary for bed-ridden patients
  6. Heal the minor pressure sores as and when they occur with special gels and wound dressings available for faster healing

Where can I buy treatment options for Pressure Ulcers or Bedsores?

At Shop Wound Care, we have a wide range of products from top selling brands such as Medline, Smith and Nephew, Coloplast etc. that help in the treatment of decubitis.
The treatment also includes the use of anti-bacterial and anti-fungal powders. Many medical professionals also recommend the use of moisturizing powders and creams so that the skin retains moisture and is not susceptible to friction-related ulcers. You can consult a medical professional for more information and advice on the topic. Shop Wound Care offers amazing discount and rewards on treatment options of Decubitus Ulcers. Shop Now!


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