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Bedsores and infection: Potentially life-threatening

When you think about bedsores, you might think of some minor inflammation or small ulcers from friction or sitting in the same place too long. The reality can be much darker. When a person is unable to move to relieve pressure from an area of the skin, they can develop ulcers. Those ulcers are a result of the blood supply being cut off to that area of the skin for two to three hours. After that, the skin begins to die.

When the skin starts dying, you'll notice the red, painful area caused by the lack of blood flow. Later, that area may turn purple. If it's not treated and the blood flow isn't restored, the skin can actually break open and become infected.

Did you know that bedsores can extend deep into the muscles and bones?

Yes, they can be so deep that the expose the tissues, fat and bone beneath the skin. These injuries are so severe at that stage that surgery may be needed to help with the healing process. Depending on the severity, the person could become septic or even pass away from infection.

What should you do if you see someone is developing a bedsore?

Take steps to immediately remove pressure from the affected area. Then, if the wound is minor, clean it and place a medicated glaze or special dressing on it and allow it to heal. If the skin has broken open, is black or is necrotic, call for medical assistance, as this ulcer may have become infected or could be highly dangerous to the patient.

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