About Pressure Injuries
What Is a Pressure Injury?
Pressure injuries are also called pressure ulcers, bedsores, or decubitus (‘lying down’) ulcers.
Pressure injuries are injuries or wounds to the skin and / or underlying tissue, usually developing at the bony areas of the body, and occurs when one or more of the following forces are applied to the skin:
When the skin is “pressed” between a bone inside the body and an external surface for long periods, blood supply to the skin is reduced. The skin becomes injured when the lack of blood causes the skin cells to die. This can occur from sitting or lying down for long periods, or from continuous use of a medical device that presses onto the skin.
Shear occurs when two surfaces move in opposite directions. For example, when a bed is elevated at the head, you may slide downwards. As the tailbone moves downwards, skin over the tailbone may stay in place, causing pulling forces in the opposite direction. When this happens, blood vessels under the skin can twist and tear, reducing blood supply to the skin and causing skin injury.
When the skin is pulled or rubs against another surface, the force generated damages the outer layers of the skin, weakening the skin and making it more prone to injury. For example, this can happen when moving someone up a bed, and the heels are dragged across the sheets.
What Are the Signs of a Pressure Injury?
- Changes in skin colour such as red, purple, blue, or black skin.
- Redness that does not turn white when light finger pressure is applied.
- Changes in skin texture, such as dry patches, swelling, blisters, or breaks in the skin.
- Warmer or cooler areas of skin.
- Hardness or softness different from the surrounding skin.
- Painful or sore areas.
Where do pressure injuries commonly occur?
Pressure injuries can occur at any part of the body, however they often occur at the bony areas of the body, as shown below:
The most common areas to develop a pressure injury include:
- Back of the head
Please inform a healthcare professional if you notice signs of a pressure injury, or if you have any questions or concerns.