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Where Are Bed Sores Most Likely to Form?
Bed sores occur in places where the skin has lost its blood supply, due to too much pressure on the body from external forces. Bed sores will form where the body presses against a bed or chair for long periods of time. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical in the effective treatment of a bed sore. Prompt treatment can prevent serious complications such as cellulitis or infection. Learning the most common bed sore locations and the earliest signs of this type of injury can help a patient or caretaker catch a bed sore early.
Places of Friction
A bed sore stems from the breakdown of skin tissues due to constant pressure and/or friction. They arise in places on the body that are not receiving enough blood supply because of the position of the patient. The breakdown of tissues can form a pressure sore that may crack and exposure the underlying tissue, or – in severe cases – bone. Bed sores are most likely to form on bony parts of the body, where the skin is thinnest. The most common bed sore locations include:
- Heels. The feet pressing into a bed for a long period of time can result in the formation of pressure ulcers on one or both heels. Bed sores on the heels, ankles, and behind the knees are most common in patients confined to a bed.
- Buttocks. Lying down or sitting in a wheelchair without getting up to move at least every two hours could result in loss of blood supply to the buttocks, and resultant pressure sores. Bed sores on the buttocks and tailbone are most common for people who use wheelchairs.
- Hip bone. Bed sores may form on the hips if a patient’s bones protrude enough to cause pressure between the skin and the bed or chair. Hip bone bed sores can occur in patients on bedrest or who must lay on their sides for long periods of time for medical reasons.
- Back. The bones of the spinal cord could press against the back of a chair or bed, causing friction and pressure that leads to a bed sore. Bed sores can occur low on the back, near the tailbone, or higher, between the shoulder blades.
A patient’s head or scalp can also form bed sores if the back or sides of the head receive constant pressure or friction from a pillow or the headrest of a wheelchair. Helping a patient sit up or revolve positions can help prevent bed sores on the scalp, back, hips, buttocks, feet, and elsewhere on the body.
Early Signs of a Bed Sore
Doctors and caretakers should know the most common places for bed sores to form. In a nursing home, for example, staff members should keep schedules for when a resident requires physical therapy or movement. This will keep blood flowing to all areas, including those most prone to bed sores. Failure to prevent a bed sore could result in early ulcer symptoms such as:
- Reddened or swollen skin
- Skin that does not turn white when someone applies pressure
- Skin with a bluish, purplish, or bruised appearance
- Area of skin that feels abnormally warm or cool
- Patient complaints of tingling, pain, or itching on part of the body
If left untreated, a bed sore can worsen and kill more of the surrounding tissues in the affected area. A neglected bed sore could be prone to infection, as well as a severe form of infection: sepsis. Sepsis can be fatal. Patients, caretakers, and physicians must spot bed sores as early as possible to act quickly and prevent life-threatening complications. Detecting a bed sore before the skin cracks yields the most positive prognosis for full recovery.