Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust: Healthcare from the heart of your community

Pressure Ulcers

Pressure Ulcers or bed sores damage the skin and occur when constant pressure has been applied to your skin for a length of time.
If they become infected due to a lack of treatment, they can have a huge effect on your life.
However, most Pressure Ulcers are avoidable if early detection and preventative measures are taken.

The video below will explain who is most at risk of getting Pressure Ulcers, how to prevent Pressure Ulcers and who to turn to for support if you are worried about getting ulcers.

What are Pressure Ulcers and what are the symptoms?

Pressure Ulcers, commonly known as bed sores, are caused by poor circulation to tissue due to a combination of factors including body weight, sliding or slumping down the bed/chair and friction.
This simple diagram shows where the most common locations of Pressure Ulcers are when lying on your back, lying on your side and seated.
Your skin will often start to look red or discoloured and it may also start to feel spongy, hard, tender, or even painful and numb.
These ulcers often appear as redness, blisters or open wounds depending on how advanced the skin damage is.
It might blister or graze and can quickly become infected.

What are the early signs of a Pressure Ulcer?

You will notice the following signs:
• change in skin colour - it could become redder or darker
• discomfort or pain
• blistering
• skin damage.

What you can do to prevent getting Pressure Ulcers?

The increased benefits of preventing Pressure Ulcers are immense.
Putting the financial costs aside, the more negative aspect is the physical, emotional and debilitating effect on patients.
A few minutes a day can prevent you developing Pressure Ulcers by changing your position regularly to keep your blood flowing.

Use these precautionary steps to help prevent Pressure Ulcers:

Check: Are you sitting on a hard surface with any uneven ridges? This includes creases in the bed sheets.
Do you have a pressure relieving cushion or mattress? Is it alarming or not working properly? It is very important not to ignore this - take action, it could prevent you developing a Pressure Ulcer.
Inspect: Check your skin for redness, especially around bony areas, for example your heels, bottom, hips and elbows.
Do you see redness or sores? If you do, tell your healthcare professional immediately.
Is your skin clean and dry? Or do you have problems with leaking urine or poo. Urine and poo discharge inflame your skin and can make it very red and sore.
Prevent: Eat a well-balanced diet with lots of vegetables and ensure you drink a lot of fluids. If this is not possible speak to your healthcare professional for advice.
You should also use a mild soap and simple moisturiser when cleansing.
Move: Take the pressure off your skin by moving frequently.
Change your position every two hours especially when sitting and get up and move around to allow your skin to recover.
Ensure you are positioned well, as poor posture or positioning can lead to the development of Pressure Ulcers.
Don’t use your heels to push or move yourself further up in the bed, as this could lead to blisters forming on your heels.

How we can help you?

If you suspect you have a Pressure Ulcer, tell your doctor or nurse as soon as possible and follow the advice they give you.
If your GP feels it is appropriate they can refer you to our community nurses who can help support you in a number of ways. Our specialist nurses work within your community to look after you at home or in a clinic close to you.