What is a pressure ulcer?
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), a pressure ulcer is damage to the skin and the deeper layer of tissue under the skin. They are also referred to as pressure sores or bedsores. (April 2004)
Pressure ulcers occur when an area of skin is subjected to pressure for a period of time. The ulcer forms because the blood supply to the skin is reduced and the skin becomes starved of oxygen and nutrients. People who have to stay in bed or sit in a chair for long periods of time are the most susceptible.
If left untreated, pressure ulcers can become very serious, causing pain, and can result in a hospital admission. Muscle or bone can also be badly damaged by severe pressure ulcers, with healing taking a very long time.
Most vulnerable parts of the body
- 30% of all pressure sores occur around the sacrum, the triangular, curved bone above the buttocks
- 25-30% of pressure sores occur on the heals
- 10% of pressures injuries occur on the buttocks
Influences on pressure sores
- Individual’s knowledge of importance of repositioning
- Duration of pressure caused by remaining in same position
- Poor posture or positioning in a chair – Sliding down a chair increases the risk of shear and friction
- Being moved across a bed – Increased risk of shear and friction
- Degree of care available
- Mattress or cushion type. The surface an individual lies or sits on can profoundly influence pressure over bony prominences
- External factors including urine, faeces, starch from sheets, perfume