Bedsores, which are referred to medically as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, result from prolonged pressure on the skin, usually across bony areas, including the heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone. If you need to spend a lot of time sitting or lying in the same position, you’re at an increased risk of developing bedsores.
They develop quickly, and, though they often heal under proper treatment, some will never heal completely. They also put you at risk of developing several serious complications. Here are just a few reasons why bedsores can become such a serious problem.
Bedsores are extremely uncomfortable, and they can easily become infected. Cellulitis refers to an infection of the skin and connected soft tissues. The skin may grow red, hot, and swollen, often cracking and weeping fluid as the condition becomes more serious. Infection is serious since it significantly impacts your immune system and can cause feverish symptoms.
Bone and Joint Infection
If one of your pressure sores becomes infected, that infection can spread from the skin to the joints and bones. Joint infections are referred to as septic arthritis – they can damage the cartilage and tissue inside your joints, potentially making the mobility issues that confined you to bed in the first place worse than ever. Bone infections, referred to as osteomyelitis, can further reduce the function of joints and limbs while producing extreme pain when pressure is placed on the infected area.
In some cases, bedsores can be present for months. If your wound lasts this long, it’s possible that it will develop into a type of squamous cell carcinoma. It’s often hard to diagnose squamous cell skin cancer until the condition is quite advanced, so developing it can prove fatal.
Sepsis is a life-threatening potential complication of bedsores. It’s a condition that arises when the body’s response to infection starts to injure its own tissues and organs. Only rarely do bedsores lead to sepsis, but it’s a possibility well worth keeping in mind.