What is a pressure ulcer?
A pressure ulcer is an area of damaged skin caused by pressure that may be commonly known as 'bedsores'.
Pressure ulcers can happen by sitting or lying in one position for too long without moving, or from slipping down a bed or chair.
Early signs of a pressure ulcer
Redness, discomfort, pain, patches of hard skin, blue/purple patches, blisters or visible skin damage or area's that are cool or hot.
Report any skin changes
immediately to your carer or healthcare professional who can advise on pressure
A pressure ulcer can develop in only a few hours. If a pressure ulcer isn't treated quickly it can develop into an open blister and - over a period of time - into a deep hole in the flesh.
Where are pressure ulcers most likely to develop?
Usually on the parts of the body which take your weight and where the bone is close to the surface. They can take a long time to heal and are painful. Sometimes they can get infected. It is much better to stop this from happening.
Implications of having a pressure ulcer: people who have had a pressure ulcer describe them as:
"Embarrassing and smelly, got infected and stopped me doing what I wanted to do."
"Made me feel like a burden, really unwell and stopped me going to work or even having a social life."
"Painful, caused broken sleep and even stopped me sleeping at all."
Ways to prevent a pressure ulcer using the aSSKINg framework:
A risk assessment – will be carried out. If you are at risk a care plan appropriate to your needs will be made with you.
Skin Inspection – Check your skin as often as you can. If you can't check it yourself, tell someone if you feel sore or uncomfortable particularly if this is on your heels or bottom. If you are unable to feel if you are getting sore, try to move more often. If you have any contracted limbs it's important that they are checked. Do not rub skin as this can remove the top layer causing damage.
Surface – If you are assessed as being at risk of developing pressure ulcers you will be offered special equipment, which is discussed below. This can help to prevent a pressure ulcer occurring.
Keep moving – This is very important. Stand or walk as much as possible, or if in bed try to roll onto alternate sides as often as you can or as discussed with your health professional. Keep moving as much as you can. If you can walk around please ensure that your footwear fits correctly to prevent skin damage.
Incontinence – it is important to deal with any continence concerns as these can damage your skin and make you more at risk of pressure ulcers. If you develop sore or chapped skin, let your health professional or carer know. Use a barrier cream to protect skin and wash with a mild non- perfumed cleanser
Nutrition – plays a very important role in preventing pressure ulcers. Nutritional needs will be discussed with you and a plan made to ensure that you are eating and drinking what you should.
Give information – it is important that you understand the information given to you, if you are unclear please speak to your health care professional or carer.
How can we help you?
Our Tissue Viability Teams in Knowsley and St Helens work closely with other healthcare professionals providing advice and support to care for non-healing or slow to heal wounds.