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Skin Ulcers in Older Patients

Christopher Frank, MD, CCFP, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON.

Skin ulcers are common among older adults, especially those in hospital or in long-term care facilities. Prevention of ulcers is important in all clinical settings. Clarifying the cause(s) and exacerbating factors is the first step in management. Pressure and venous insufficiency are the most common causes among older adults. Poor nutrition, edema, arterial insufficiency, and anemia may impair wound healing. Adequate debridement and cleaning is important to decrease infection risk and to promote healing. The choice of dressings depends on the needs of the individual wound but should emphasize the provision of a moist wound environment. Options for dressings are summarized.
Key words: skin ulcers, treatment, wound healing, older adults, pressure ulcers.