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Pressure injuries

Why is it important to know about pressure injuries?

A pressure injury can happen quickly, so it is important to heed the warning signs and act swiftly to prevent them occurring. Let nursing staff know if you think you may have a pressure injury starting.

Pressure injury can slow your recovery and have an adverse effect on your lifestyle.  They can also lead to a longer Hospital stay.

This is an injury on an area of skin that has been damaged due to unrelieved and prolonged pressure. They are also known as pressure sores.

Pressure injuries are grouped into four stages, depending on the depth of your injuries.

You might hear staff referring to your pressure injury as stage 1, 2, 3, 4 or unstagable.  Stage 1 injuries are less severe, whilst a stage 4 is more severe.

You can be at risk of getting a pressure injury if one or more of the following situations relate to you:

  • If you are confined to bed or a chair and you are unable to move yourself independently, or have limited movement.
  • You have loss of sensation or poor circulation. Some medical conditions can change perception of pain or discomfort. With altered sensation, it is easy to miss the warning signs alerting you to the need to move or roll over so that you take the pressure off particular areas of your body..
  • You have skin that is frequently moist through perspiration or loss of bowel or bladder control.
  • You have poor nutrition.
  • You are unwell.

A staff member will examine you and ask certain questions about your general health, your skin and your ability to move independently.

This is called a Risk Assessment. Together you can work out the best plan to prevent or reduce the risk of getting a pressure injury. 

  • Move ... move ... move ... to relieve the pressure
  • Look after your skin
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Stop smoking

Check your skin regularly. Look for:

  • Red, purple or blue skin
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Dryness or dry patches
  • Shiny areas
  • Cracks, calluses, wrinkles

Feel for:

  • Hard areas
  • Warm areas
  • Swollen skin over bony points

Let staff know if you notice any signs of damage. If you have difficulties checking your skin, ask a staff member for help.

Blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body, including the skin.

Constant pressure in one area means that blood and nutrients are less able to reach the skin area. If the bones inside your body put too much pressure on these blood vessels, then the blood cannot get through, and this can cause damage to your skin and other tissues.

Although unrelieved pressure is the main cause of pressure injuries, a combination of other factors such as friction (from rubbing, dragging) and shear (sliding down the bed) can also contribute to skin damage, leading to pressure injury.

If you have had a pressure injury in the past, the scar tissue in that area is weaker and more prone to further damage.

After a pressure injury heals the new skin does not have the same strength. The new skin is only 80 percent as strong as it was originally.

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