Pressure injury prevention and management is extremely important as you age. Older people, are at significant risk of developing pressure injuries and skin tears.
Knowing what these are, how to prevent them and if you have them how to manage them will help ensure you can take good care of your skin and health.
We’ve put together this blog to help you with pressure injury prevention and management.
What is a pressure injury?
A pressure injury (a pressure sore or bedsore) is an injured area of the skin. Pressure injuries occur when force is applied to the surface of the skin.
The force may be a constant pressure on an area of skin or a drag or friction force between the skin and another surface.
These injuries usually occur in bony parts of the body (hips, heels, tailbone, elbows, head, and ankles). If a crush develops into a deep wound or becomes infected, it may be life-threatening.
What are the different stages of a pressure injury?
Four stages describe the severity of a wound. These stages include but are not limited to the following:
This stage is the discolouration of the skin. People with lighter skin have reddish skin, and people with darker skin have blue/purple skin. The skin may not turn white when pressed with fingers.
This stage involves superficial damage to the skin. The top layer of the skin is lost. It may also look like blisters. At this stage, the superficial skin can repair itself.
This stage develops a deeper wound that is open and extends into the fat layer of the skin but does not show muscle and bone.
This stage is the most severe. The wound continues down to the bone. Muscle and bone will be susceptible to infection, and could potentially be life-threatening.
Who is at risk of developing a pressure injury?
Pressure injuries may affect a number of people, such as the following:
- People with limited or no mobility.
- People in wheelchairs or who are chronically bedridden and need to be moved or turned regularly.
- People with prosthetics (If the prosthetic is not fitted properly, it can irritate the skin and cause pressure injuries)
- Unconscious people are also at risk, because they may not be able to feel the pressure being applied to the skin. As a result, they may not be able to move, which may exacerbate pressure injuries.
- Malnourished (When nutritional needs are not met, wound healing slows down)
- Older adults (Skin naturally becomes thinner with age and are more susceptible to damage)
What could cause a pressure injury?
Pressure injuries occur when the skin is put under pressure, which causes damage to the skin tissue. Some types of forces include:
- Pressure: Constant pressure on the skin is caused by staying in the same position for a long time.
- Shear force: When the head of the bed lifts and the body slides down, shear damage or drag can occur. The skin sticks to the sheet, but the inner structure of the skin is damaged.
- Moisture: Fluids (sweat, urine, faeces) that remain on the skin can lead to excessive moisture in the skin, which increases the risk of pressure injuries.
How can a pressure injury be prevented?
Pressure injuries can be prevented by careful observation of the skin and frequent assistance to move those who cannot turn themselves.
Pressure injuries may be prevented by doing the following:
- Always keeping your skin clean and your body dry.
- Moving your body and changing positions frequently to avoid constant stress on the bony prominences of the body.
- Using foaming pads and pillows to help relieve pressure on bony protruding parts of your body when turning over in bed.
- Eating a healthy diet to avoid malnutrition and to help wounds heal.
When should you call your doctor?
If you suspect you have a pressure injury, consult your doctor as soon as possible because it if it is caught early, it is easier to heal. If you are unsure, please feel free to reach out to your care manager for more guidance.
It is important to prevent wounds from becoming infected as they may become infected if healing is delayed.
At Let’s Get Care, we offer an array of services such as personal assistance and clinical care, if you would like to learn more, contact our expert team on 1300 497 442.