Commonly called a bed sore, pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcers, pressure injuries occur when sitting or lying for long periods of time without changing position. They refer to areas of damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by constant pressure or friction. This reduces blood, oxygen and nutrient supply and causes excessive pressure that can result in skin discolouration, loss or damage.
People who have limited mobility are at most risk of developing pressure injuries. Although pressure injuries can be difficult to treat, they are preventable – and this is key to managing the areas that are at risk.
What is at risk?
Pressure injuries and sores are most commonly found on the bony areas of the body, and most frequently occur on the:
- Back of the head
- Lower back
If left untreated, pressure injuries can become serious and can lead to complications like infections, inflammation and even sepsis.
Who is at risk?
Pressure injuries can occur at any age, but you may be more at risk if you;
- Have reduced mobility
- Are in a wheelchair
- Spend long periods in a chair or bed
- Are not physically active
- Have poor circulation
- Are dehydrated or don’t drink enough fluids
- Have a long-term illness
- Suffer incontinence
- Are over/underweight
- Have poor nutrition and diet
What are the symptoms?
Pressure injuries can develop within hours, so it’s important to regularly check for signs and symptoms, such as areas of redness, tender or broken skin and numbness, tingling or pain.
Grades of Pressures Injuries:
Pressure sores are graded to four levels, including:
- grade I – skin discolouration, usually red, blue, purple or black
- grade II – some skin loss or damage involving the top-most skin layers
- grade III – necrosis (death) or damage to the skin patch, limited to the skin layers
- grade IV – necrosis (death) or damage to the skin patch and underlying structures, such as tendon, joint or bone.
Preventing Pressure Injuries
Once they have developed, pressure injuries can be difficult to treat, but they are preventable.
Prevention is always better than a cure - visit your healthcare professional for advice on how to treat, prevent and manage pressure sores and follow these top tips to avoid pressure injuries:
- Change your position regularly to reduce the amount of time an area is under pressure
- Ensure skin is clean, dry and well moisturised
- Use balanced pH products
- Avoid excessive rubbing or friction
- Ensure clothing and bedding is clean and wrinkle-free
- Don’t sit or lie on top of other objects
- Take extra care when transferring on and off different surfaces
Once pressure injuries develop, the cost of treatment and the difficulty of recovery increases. Fortunately, there are numerous products that have been designed to help prevent pressure injuries including:
The right mattress will provide both comfort and support and is especially important if you spend long periods lying flat in bed.
For example, the Forte Sovereign Mattress has a 4-way stretch fabric with full permeability. This means that the skin is not under pressure and allows any sweat to pass through it.
If you sit for long periods of time, a lift chair could be for you. These chairs help you go from a sitting to standing as easily as possible. Our range of lift chairs are built for comfort and support, helping reduce the likelihood of injury.
If you’re in a wheelchair or sit for long periods, you may also want to consider a high-care cushion like the Roho Quadtro, to give you maximum skin protection, stability and support.
Our high care cushions are adjustable to suit your specific needs and unique body shape. Take a look at our full range here.
The heels, knees and elbows are areas at high risk of developing pressure sores due to being bony and exposed to frequent friction and movement. Joint protectors can help to prevent pressure injuries in these areas by acting as a guard against bruises and sores.
Preventing pressure injuries will save on healthcare and medical costs, and help you avoid a sometimes slow and difficult recovery. You can view our full range of pressure care products here.
At Life Mobility, we aim to ensure that people living with a disability or limited mobility are able to lead active, independent lives. We understand that each person’s needs are unique and therefore require a customised solution.