Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure sores are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue. They appear when the affected area of skin is subjected to pressure over a period of time. Due to this pressure the blood flow is disrupted The area does not irrigate, therefore nutrients and oxygen do not reach the skin cells. The skin then breaks and pressure sores form. Pressure sores tend to break down from the inside out. This means that it is essential that staff remain vigilant for signs of breakdown.
Parts of the body that are at most at risk of developing pressure sores are those in direct contact with a supporting surface, such as a bed, pillow or chair. These might be:
Shoulders or shoulder blades
Back of the head
Rims of ears
Tail bone (the small bone at the bottom of the spine)
Some of the factors that can put an individual at risk of developing pressure sores are:
Poor nutrition or hydration
A health condition that limits the blood supply(diabetes and peripheral arterial disease) making the skin vulnerable to bruising and damage
Urine or bowel incontinence
Using incorrect moving and handling techniques can damage the skin.
If a sling is in the wrong position it can pull the skin causing friction burns or tears. The same can happen when removing a sling as the straps are nylon and if removed quickly especially from under the legs, can again cause friction burns or tears.
Not paying attention when putting foot plates on a wheelchair in place can trap feet causing bruising or breaking of the skin.
Wheel chairs, beds, tables and various other house hold furniture can have hard, sharp corners that can be bashed against causing injury. Even a small bump against something can have dire results.
Sitting someone in a wheelchair for long periods of time without an appropriate cushion can cause pressure areas to break down.
Pulling someone up or over on the bed without a slide sheet can also cause friction resulting in the breaking or tearing of skin through friction.
When using a slide sheet to move someone up a bed the feet should also be on the sheet, or on another one (placing a plastic bag under the feet will have the same effect) to protect the heels from friction burns/damage.
Not using the correct techniques for moving limbs or sitting someone forward can result in bruising. If a carer uses a grip rather than an open palm, fingers