The Fearless Cregiver


What Are Those Red Spots?

Have you ever noticed unexplained red spots or blotches on a loved one’s body? It might look like a mild burn, or a bruise or even a shadow that won’t go away. Be very careful – this innocent-looking but puzzling skin irritation could be a bed sore, also known as a pressure ulcer! Whatever you do, don’t ignore the spot; it could be critical.

Sores occur most frequently on those who are immobile (even temporarily), diabetic, have fragile or “thin” skin and/or are advanced in age. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people develop pressure ulcers and sadly, tens of thousands of people die each year as a result of complications created by these sores.

Most often a medical profession within a facility diagnoses the pressure ulcer, having had the training to recognize the various key factors. Recently, this issue has gained increasing attention as Medicare will no longer reimburse for hospital-acquired pressure sores or for the treatment required to address them.

What to look for?

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel suggests that any red spot observed has the potential to become a pressure sore very quickly. The blemishes you see on the skin are the result of capillary closure caused by pressure, shear (skin twisting/tearing/folding) and/or friction. Factors such as heat, humidity, presence of moisture and individual health can Action Productssignificantly impact the risk of developing an ulcer, or can speed/ worsen the development. If left untreated, these areas can become open wounds that evolve outward from within the tissue itself. Therefore, monitoring the integrity of one’s skin (particularly in bony areas or areas under great pressure due to seating or lying position) daily is critical.

What to do if you find a spot or sore?

If you observe any unexplained red spot, blotch, burn-like skin insult or inflamed area of the skin, contact your medical professional immediately. The area needs to be evaluated, and potentially treated, as soon as possible.


What can you do to avoid them?

Mobility can be your friend. Whether this occurs in the form of walking or in frequently changing seated or lying positions, the relief of pressure on any bony prominence is important. As a care provider, it is recommended that your loved one or patient be repositioned a minimum of every two hours.

It is also helpful to use a support surface that minimizes pressure between the individual and any skin contact surface such as a chair, wheelchair or bed. If you are using pillows or towels to accomplish this, or to enhance comfort, typically they are only effective as short-term fixes. However, for periods longer than 20 minutes, these may do more harm than good. You want to make sure that the surface does not create heat or humidity, is smooth and never “bottoms out.”  These will create skin breakdowns.

Speak with your doctor or a medically trained professional about what options are on the market that might complement your environment, capabilities, price point and individual health needs.

Wednesday November 10, 2010
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