Causes and risk factors
Pressure Ulcers are caused by sustained pressure to one area (i.e. sacrum) without relief. There are a variety of reasons people may be more at risk of developing a pressure ulcer. The most common factors can be found here.
Incontinence: Wet skin is at more risk of breaking down. If someone you care for is incontinent, ensure that their pad is changed regularly and they are kept as clean and dry as possible.
Paraplegia/Tetraplegia (e.g. spinal cord injury/stroke/brain injury): If sensation is reduced, people may not recognise that they are developing sore areas on their skin. Skin should be checked regularly for red areas.
Unable to or won’t move: If someone is unable to move they are unable to relieve pressure independently (usually we naturally shift our weight around to ease pressure). If someone is unable to move they should be assisted to adjust their position every 2 hours to relieve pressure and maintain comfort.
Broken bones or recent surgery: These people may be in pain and be less able to shift their weight to reduce pressure. They are likely to be spending long periods in one position and so should be assisted to change position regularly & walk around if able.
Poor nutrition or dehydration: If someone is not well nourished or is dehydrated, their skin is more at risk of breaking down and will heal more slowly. Good levels of nutrition & hydration should be encouraged.
Age over 70: With age, skin loses some of its elasticity which makes it more vulnerable to damage. Blood flow and fatty tissue under the skin will be reduced.
Underlying health conditions that can reduce blood flow: (i.e. diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, peripheral vascular disease). Reduced blood flow can prevent healing and therefore make the skin more susceptible to severe damage. Therefore, following medical advice to keep these conditions stable is essential.