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Pressure ulcers

Pressure ulcers

Pressure ulcers happen when areas of skin and the underlying tissues are damaged because of the pressure being placed on that area of skin.


If we sit in a chair or lie in bed for a while our skin can start to feel uncomfortable – a sign that the blood is not getting to the area of skin which our weight is pushing down on. When we feel this, we change our position and let the blood flow back.

A person who can't move easily or can't feel their skin they might remain in one position for much longer than is safe. Without blood supply the skin isn't getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs and starts to die which causes a wound to form - this is a pressure ulcer.


They can also be caused by friction or unsafe movements which drag the skin (e.g. if you pull yourself out of a chair and the skin on your back is dragged against the back of the chair).

Are they serious?

For some people they can be painful, or an inconvenience that requires nursing care but for others pressure ulcers can lead to life-threatening complications such as an infection in the blood.
 

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop pressure ulcers if they are unable to make regular movements to relieve the build-up of pressure.

The people most at risk are people with:

  • ongoing difficulties with movement due to weakness/age or injury (e.g. spinal cord injuries)
  • temporary difficulties moving due to sedation during surgery, pain or during an illness
  • poor diet or weight loss
  • the elderly
  • people with poor blood supply
  • smokers
  • diabetics
  • incontinence (urine can damage the skins natural defences)


The best way to manage pressure ulcers is to identify the risk of pressure ulcers and try to prevent them from developing or to check the skin regularly to try and identify them at the early stages. A pressure ulcer can show up as changes in skin colour but at their worst can be full thickness skin loss to bone.


Where you should check for pressure ulcers?


They can happen anywhere on the skin but we recommend checking the following areas:

Body Diagram

Preventing pressure ulcers

GreenHand


There are a few simple steps that you can take to help prevent pressure ulcers
 
– just remember SSKIN

Surface: Do you have the right support? Ask you healthcare professional to assess whether you need any pressure relieving equipment or products.

Skin: Inspect your skin regularly. Don't be embarrassed to ask your nurse or healthcare professional to help you. Areas of discoloured skin where you are sitting or lying could be early signs of pressure damage.

Keep moving: Change your position regularly - if you have difficulty moving ask someone to help you.

Incontinence / moisture: moisture sitting on your skin can damage the top layers of the skin increasing your risk of pressure. Make sure you're using appropriate incontinence products your healthcare professional can help with this.

Nutrition / hydration: Eat healthily and drink frequently. If you don't eat have a well-balanced diet it leaves your skin more vulnerable to pressure damage and poor recovery. You can speak to your nurse or GP about your diet; they may refer you to a dietitian.

 

 

Last Updated: Wednesday, 02 November 2016 16:13

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