What is a pressure ulcer? 

A pressure ulcer is damage that occurs on the skin and underlying tissue. Pressure ulcers are caused by three main things:

  • Pressure: the weight of the body pressing
    down on the skin.
  • Shearing: the layers of the skin are forced to slide over one another or over  deeper tissues,e.g. when you slide down, a bed or chair.
  • Friction: rubbing the skin.


Early signs of a pressure ulcer are:

  • Change in skin colour - skin may redden
  • Change in skin temperature - hotter or colder
  • Discomfort or pain


The most common places for pressure ulcers are over bones, close to the skin such as:

  • Bottom
  • Heel
  • Back

Anyone can get a pressure ulcer, but some people are more likely to develop one than others. People who may be at increased risk include patients:

  • That have or have had a pressure ulcer
  • That have problems moving and need assistance to change position
  • That cannot feel pain over part or all of their body for example a damaged spinal cord
  • That are incontinent
  • That are seriously ill
  • Have a poor diet and don’t drink enough water
  • That are very old or very young
  • Having suffered an injury, for example a broken hip.

Your named nurse will assess your risk. This will involve a head-to-toe skin  assessment and a discussion of the risk factors such as diabetes, a stroke, smoking or surgery.

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