Definition of Pressure sore
Pressure sore: A sore area of skin that develops when the blood supply to it is cut off for more than two to three hours due to pressure on it and lack of movement. As the skin dies, the pressure sore first appears as a red painful area, which in time turns purple. Left untreated, the skin can break open and become infected. A pressure sore can become deep (ulcerate) and extend into the underlying muscle. Once a bed sore develops, it is often very slow to heal. Untreated pressure sores can become gangrenous or seriously infected.
Pressure sores are also called bed sores because they are a major problem for patients who are confined to bed and are unable to move themselves. However, the term "pressure sore" is a better general term because these sores can also develop in someone who is confined to a wheelchair or who wears a cast.
The prevention of pressure sores depends on inspecting the skin frequently for redness which is the first sign of skin breakdown. Other methods of preventing bed sores include frequent turning and repositioning of the patient, changing bedding frquently, providing soft padding in beds and wheelchairs to reduce pressure, and providing good skin care by keeping the skin clean and dry. These same measures help to prevent the progression of existing bed sores.
Treatment of pressure sores may include removing pressure on the affected area, protecting the wound with medicated gauze or other special dressings, and keeping the wound clean. Medications including antibiotics may be needed if the pressure wound is infected. To repair an old pressure sore, healthy skin may be transplanted to the area.
A pressure sore is also called a decubitus sore or decubitus ulcer.
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012
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