Treatment of pressure ulcers

The most important part of any treatment for pressure ulcers is to remove the cause of the pressure or friction and help the person to move around where possible.

If you have noticed a pressure ulcer at a very early stage (called a category 1 ulcer) the GP will usually arrange for the district or community nurse to assess the person and offer advice.

The nurse can also talk to you about aids to protect the body (such as pressure-relieving pads, special cushions, overlays or mattresses) and how to get hold of them. These aids can help prevent pressure ulcers developing or getting worse. There should be no charge for their use. Although they are important, they do not replace the need to move and reposition the person. The nurse may also advise on correct sitting or lying positions (eg supporting the feet).

Category 2 pressure ulcers

If the skin has broken (called a category 2 pressure ulcer), the district or community nurse will need to investigate further and ensure that the right treatment is given. As part of this assessment the nurse may take a photograph of the area. This makes it easier to compare the ulcer over time and see whether any treatment is working. For category 2 ulcers, treatment will generally include cleaning the wound and applying a dressing. The aim is for the ulcer to heal properly and not become a long-term ('chronic') problem, or one which requires hospital treatment. It is essential that the person avoids lying or sitting on the sore area.

Pain relief of pressure ulcers

A pressure ulcer of any type can be extremely painful, so regular pain relief is important. Paracetamol is often very effective for this.

Some pressure ulcers, particularly chronic ulcers, become infected and even more painful. At worst, this can make the person seriously ill with blood poisoning or infection of the bone. Treatment for an infected ulcer is likely to include antibiotics or a special dressing.

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