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You have been diagnosed with a pressure ulcer. This breakdown of skin and tissue can happen when you are bedridden or stay in one position for a long time without moving. These are also called pressure sores or bedsores. Here’s what you can do to prevent, watch for, or help heal these ulcers.
Check your body daily for any signs of skin redness or open wounds.
Turn or change your position at least every 2 hours. If you can’t move yourself, ask someone to help you move.
If you are chair-bound, reposition yourself every 15 minutes. If you cannot move yourself, have someone move you at least once an hour.
Ask about special products, such as mattresses and chair cushions, which can help reduce pressure on your skin.
Avoid doughnut-shaped cushions or any cushion that does not support you completely.
Exercise your body to stay as flexible as possible. Tense and relax your muscles. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Rotate your wrists and ankles. Get help if you can’t do this for yourself.
If needed, have a family member, friend, or caregiver bend and straighten your arms and legs every day to keep you from getting stiff.
Keep your skin clean and moisturized. Ask your healthcare provider about products that clean and protect the skin.
Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If your doctor recommends it, see a dietitian for help.
Watch for signs such as these:
Body areas with little or no feeling
Body areas that are subject to nonstop pressure related to positioning or devices
Any injury to the skin
A reddened or darkened area of skin that does not go away within 30 minutes of relieving pressure on that site by moving and changing your position
Skin cracks, blisters, peels, or breaks
Open skin that oozes or drains
Keep pressure off the ulcer and surrounding area. If the ulcer is on your back, try lying on your side or stomach.
Keep the ulcer clean. Protect it from urine, stool, and other irritating or infectious agents.
Don’t massage the area around the ulcer. This can cause extra tissue damage. Also, don’t massage any of the bony parts of your body.
Don’t touch or try to remove scabs without medical supervision. Talk to your doctor about products that help pressure ulcers heal. There are also products that protect the area from infection and protect the skin around the ulcer.
Small superficial ulcers may heal without complications. More serious pressure ulcers require close follow-up due to potential for infection. Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:
Fever of 100.4°F or higher, or chills
Pus, bloody drainage, or odor from the ulcer
Redness or swelling around the ulcer
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
Exposed bone in the ulcer