Measures To Prevent Pressure Injuries
How can pressure injuries be prevented?
Refer to the ‘Pressure Injury Toolkit’ for useful tools and tips to help you prevent pressure injuries.
Constant exposure of skin to moisture from urine or faeces can weaken the skin and increase risk of skin damage. With reduced movement, damaged skin can develop into pressure injuries.
To prevent skin breakdown, it is important to ensure good personal hygiene. Wash skin with water or pH neutral skin cleansers. Avoid heavily perfumed soaps or talcum powder, as these can dry the skin and make it prone to injury. Make sure skin is dried gently and thoroughly following cleansing.
If you/ your loved one has incontinence, ask a healthcare professional for advice on appropriate treatment and management. A suitable incontinence product (e.g. diapers, incontinence pads), or barrier products to protect the skin from moisture damage (e.g. barrier creams, sprays), may be recommended.
Nutrition & Hydration
Eating and drinking well makes the skin healthy and more resistant to pressure injuries.
A wide variety of food taken in moderation and in the right balance, provides the nutrients required to maintain healthy skin. If you or your loved one is at risk for developing a pressure injury, or has an existing pressure injury, it is important to have enough protein, Vitamin C, and Zinc in your diet.
Dehydration causes skin to become weak and prone to injury. In addition to fluid from your food, it is recommended to drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluids a day, unless instructed otherwise by a healthcare professional.
If you or your loved one is overweight, underweight, or has diabetes, there is an increased risk of developing a pressure injury, and increased risk of poor healing of an existing pressure injury. Seek advice from a healthcare professional if you/ your loved one requires help with diet, weight, or diabetes control.
Prolonged pressure cuts off blood supply to the skin and tissues, leading to damage. Regular movement is important to promote blood circulation and prevent pressure injuries.
If you or your loved one is bed-bound, regular turning should be done at least two-hourly, changing positions on each side, alternating between the left side, right side, and lying flat. control.
If you/your loved one is chair-bound, change positions at least three times each hour when sitting. Avoid sliding or dragging in and out of the chair or bed.
Use Pressure Relieving Surfaces
There are many different types of mattresses, cushions and other aids that can help reduce pressure on the skin. If you/ your loved one sits or lies still for long periods, ask a healthcare professional about suitable products.
Note that there are some products which are only for comfort and may be poor at preventing pressure injuries. In addition, regular movement is still important to prevent pressure injuries, and cannot be replaced with the use of pressure-relieving surfaces. Seek advice from a healthcare professional if you have any queries or doubts.
Reassess skin regularly
Examine skin for signs of pressure injuries at least once a day, or after each turning (at least 2-hourly) if chair- or bed-bound.
Look for skin that does not go back to its normal colour after taking weight off it, especially at the areas where pressure injuries commonly develop. Do not put continuous pressure on areas of skin which are redder or darker than normal. Note any blisters, dry patches, or breaks in the skin. Inform a healthcare professional if you notice any skin changes, or have any concerns.
If using a medical device, remove or move the device at least once a day to assess the skin condition. Seek advice from a healthcare professional on what devices can or cannot be removed, and how they should be handled.
You Should Seek Help Early
If you notice a change in your/ your loved one’s skin and suspect a pressure injury, inform a healthcare professional early.
Early treatment is key to pressure injury healing. Once a pressure injury worsens, it becomes harder to treat, and can lead to complications.
Please inform a healthcare professional if you notice signs of a pressure injury, or if you have any questions or concerns.