Pressure Sores

A pressure sore is an injury that damages the skin and underlying tissue. These sores are also referred to as pressure ulcers or bedsores and they range in severity from mild (minor skin reddening) to severe (deep craters down to muscle and bone). Unrelieved pressure on the skin squeezes tiny blood vessels that supply the skin with nutrients and oxygen. When skin is starved of nutrients and oxygen for too long, the tissue dies and a pressure sore forms.

  • Skin reddening that disappears after pressure is removed is normal and not a pressure sore.
  • Dehydrated or damaged tissue is less tolerant of pressure, friction and shearing, especially over bony areas.

Damage occurs with high pressure over a short period of time or with less pressure over a long period of time. Current research indicates that damage begins inward and is unseen until it moves outward with surface skin destruction. Other factors cause pressure sores too. If a person slides down in the bed or chair, blood vessels can stretch or tear and cause pressure sores. Even slight rubbing or friction on the skin may cause minor pressure sores.

Medical conditions, such as diabetes (which leads to decreased circulation), severe weight loss, and cancer (which causes tissue wasting) may further increase risk.


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