What is a decubitus ulcer?

A decubitus ulcer or pressure ulcer is an open wound on the skin. The ulcers often develop on the skin over bony areas. Pressure is the usual cause especially lying on a certain body part for extended periods can cause the skin to deteriorate. It can also occur if rubbing or scraping the skin against rough or hard surfaces. In addition, soiled clothes or undergarments for extended periods can lead to an open sore on the skin that can aggravate the delicate exterior skin layer.

The usual sites for the ulcers to form include the:

  • Back
  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Ankles

The condition is prevalent among the elderly, disabled, those with fragile skin, individuals who spend long periods in a wheelchair or bed and those who have limited mobility. Luckily, the condition can be treated and recovery is good.

What are the phases of decubitus ulcers?

decubitus-ulcer

The condition is prevalent among the elderly, disabled, those with fragile skin, individuals who spend long periods in a wheelchair or bed and those who have limited mobility.

  • Stage 1 – the skin is not broken but appears discolored. The area appears reddened among those with light complexion. This discoloration might vary from bluish to purple among those with dark complexion.
  • Stage 2 – the skin is exposed with indications of some tissue death on the area bordering the wound. The ulcer is superficial with a reddish pink wound bed. There might also be a blister filled with fluid.
  • Stage 3 – the ulcer is deeper and involves the fat layer and appears like a crater. In addition, there might be pus in the sore.
  • Stage 4 – several layers are involved including the muscle and bone. An eschar or dark substance might be within the sore.

If the decubitus ulcer is considered unstageable, the ulcer might appear yellow or green. It might be soft and appear like pus or have a brownish scab covering.

In case the damage is extensive, it requires removal. Nevertheless, if the covering of the ulcer is dry and stable, it should not be removed.

What are the indications?

  • Discolored skin
  • Pain or discomfort in the affected region
  • Infection
  • Open skin
  • Skin that does not lighten when touched
  • Skin is lenient or steadier than the adjacent skin

Management

The treatment is based on the stage of the ulcer. The treatment might include medications, therapies and even surgery.

For the infection, the doctor might prescribe antibacterial drugs. Medications might also be given to reduce any discomfort.

The procedure that involves the removal of the dead tissue or debridement is also an option for cleaning the wound. Making sure that the site is clean and free from debris is vital in promoting healing. The doctor will also require regular changing of the wound dressing.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on decubitus ulcer is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to properly care for a decubitus ulcer, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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