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Managing Pressure Sores

Managing Pressure Sores

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Staying seated all day may sound like an ideal way to relax, but it isn’t, especially for diabetic patients. This is because pressure sores may find their way to them.

What are pressure sores?

A type of skin sore, pressure sores are skin damages caused by prolonged pressure on the skin coupled with friction. Due to the pressure, blood flow to the area is reduced, resulting in tissue damages and the formation of sores.

Pressure sores are more common in areas where the bones are close to the skin, such as the ankle, back, elbow, hips or buttocks. As such, bed- or wheelchair-bound patients are at a higher risk of developing pressure sores.

The stages of pressure sores

Pressure sores can be classified into 4 stages. Stage 1 and 2 pressure sores can be managed at home, but sores in the higher stages will require medical attention to reduce the risk of infection.

  • Stage 1
    • Intact skin gets discoloured but is firm, soft and with a slight pain
  • Stage 2
    • A superficial open wound that resembles a ruptured, fluid-filled blister is formed
  • Stage 3
    • A deep wound with a crater-like appearance is present. The wound may expose some fatty tissues or yellowish dead tissues
  • Stage 4
    • There is an extensive loss of tissues and the muscles or bones may be exposed, with dark, dead tissues at the bottom

Pressure sores in diabetic patients

Diabetic patients are more susceptible to diabetic ulcers, a type of pressure sore, as their legs and feet are less sensitive. This ultimately makes injuries and pressure sores go unnoticed, resulting in them being a portal of entry for bacteria and infection.

To prevent diabetic ulcers, diabetic patients will need to follow these steps.

  • Blood sugar levels should be well-controlled
  • Wear proper fitting footwear with adequate support to minimise injury
  • Minor foot injuries or infections (e.g. fungal) should be well-managed
  • Clean feet gently with mild soap and water, and pat dry. Apply moisturiser on feet and legs
  • Visit a podiatrist regularly to have feet checked

Treating pressure sores

To self-manage pressure sores and diabetic ulcers, a good wound dressing is needed as it minimises pain and trauma when changing dressings.

When to consult a doctor

You should see your doctor if any of these occurs:

  • Sore does not seem to be healing
  • There is unbearable pain or the affected area swells with foul odour discharge
  • You have fever
  • You experience other new, unexplainable symptoms (e.g. nausea)
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