Stop Pressure Ulcer Day takes place on 16th November 2017. It is an annual global event in which industry, healthcare professionals and the public come together to help increase knowledge and raise awareness of pressure ulcers and the resources available to help prevent pressure ulcers.
Lying on a bed or sitting for long periods of time and not moving can cause your skin to feel uncomfortable, numb or even painful. A simple change of position can help relieve this discomfort but when the individual is not able to, the skin at vulnerable areas can break down and a wound in the skin occurs.
Who is affected?
Everyone is at risk of developing pressure ulcers especially if you spend long periods of time in bed or in a chair without changing position. If you have limited mobility, you may be physically unable to change your own position and are at an increased risk. Some people, may be unable to make the connection to change their position, for example, those with dementia or sensory impairment. Poor nutrition, dehydration, incontinence and poor circulation can also contribute to pressure sore development.
What are the symptoms?
A pressure ulcer may initially appear as red skin and doesn’t blanch when you press it. It may also feel tender or warm to the touch. For people with darker pigmented skin, it may appear purple in colour. Either way, look for signs of any skin change including heat, swelling and pain as continued pressure on the area may cause the skin to break down.
Can they be treated?
Treatment of pressure ulcers is much more difficult than preventing them. Treatment will involve relieving the pressure, preventing undue moisture and keeping the area clean in addition pressure ulcers may require regular dressings. If you start seeing the signs of a pressure ulcer, involve your nurse who will organise regular visits and ongoing treatment.
How can they be prevented?
Avoiding pressure is the most important factor. Change your position regularly throughout the day. If you are at higher risk, your clinician is likely to recommend suitable intervals.
You should also consider:
- Special mattresses and cushions to relieve pressure on sensitive areas (see invacare.co.uk)
- Checking your skin regularly to spot early warning signs
- Keeping the skin healthy, clean and dry. Use a mild soap and warm water to wash with.
- Making sure that you eat and drink well – skin reacts to nutritional changes in the body. A balanced diet should include fresh fruit, vegetables and plenty of fluids throughout the day
- Contact a medical professional immediately if you notice any signs – particularly important for those in wheelchairs or sitting in a single position in the chair
Invacare offer a wide range of support surfaces designed to help reduce the risk of developing pressure ulcers. For more information, visit www.thinkpressurecare.co.uk or www.thinkclinicalseating.co.uk
Invacare UK will be proudly supporting our customers in delivering key messages for this worthwhile cause. Look out for #TeamInvacare at the following events:
- Wounds UK, Harrogate
- University Hospitals of Leicester
- Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board
Would you like to get involved?
Contact your local Invacare Territory Manager for support or find out more about pressure ulcer prevention and treatment by visiting these stop the pressure resources:
Pressure ulcer classification
NPUAP & EPUAP quick reference guide