Pressure Sores: How are pressure sores caused?

Pressure sores occur when soft tissue is compressed over a long period. The weight of the bones below the surface of the skin pressing against the skin causes blood to stop flowing into the area directly in contact with the bed or chair.

In a short space of time this can lead to the skin tissue dying and this is the start of the pressure sore. At this stage it would be classed as grade 1 and the signs of early damage are that the skin feels hot and appears red.

If the weight is not redistributed then the next stage is that the tissue breaks down and the skin cells starts to die. The skin at this stage shows evidence of damage which may appear like a blister or abrasion and there could be full thickness skin loss. This is classed as a grade 2-3 pressure sore.

The final stages of damage are where the skin breaks down totally and there is full thickness skin loss and extensive underlying tissue damage. It will appear as a hole in the skin and it can expose the underlying bone. This is classed as a grade 4 and is extremely serious as there is considerable risk of infection occuring.


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