The parts of the body most at risk of developing pressure ulcers are those that are not covered by alarge amount of body fat and are in direct contact with a supporting surface, such as a bed or a wheelchair.
For example, if you are unable to get out of bed, you are at risk of developing pressure ulcers on your:
If you are a wheelchair user, you are at risk of developing pressure ulcers on:
Healthcare professionals use several grading systems to describe the severity of pressure ulcers. The most common is the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) grading system. The higher the grade, the more severe the injury to the skin and underlying tissue.
A grade one pressure ulcer is the most superficial type of ulcer. The affected area of skin appears discoloureditis red in white people, and purple or blue in people with darker-coloured skin. Grade one pressure ulcers do not turn white when pressure is placed on them. The skin remains intact, but it may hurt or itch. It may alsofeel either warm and spongy, or hard.
In grade two pressure ulcers, some of the outer surface of the skin (the epidermis) or the deeper layer of skin (the dermis) is damaged, leading to skin loss. The ulcer looks like an open wound or a blister.
In grade three pressure ulcers, skin loss occurs throughout the entire thickness of the skin. The underlying tissue is also damaged, although the underlying muscle and bone are not. The ulcer appears as a deep, cavity-like wound.
A grade four pressure ulcer is the most severe type of pressure ulcer. The skin is severely damaged and the surrounding tissue begins to die (tissue necrosis). The underlying muscles or bone may also be damaged.
People with grade four pressure ulcers have a high risk of developing a life-threatening infection.
Pressure ulcers, sometimes known as bedsores or pressure sores, are an injury that affects areas of the skin and underlying tissue.
Depending on the severity of a pressure ulcer, symptoms can include red or discoloured skin, itchy skin, blisters or an open wound.
Pressure ulcers are caused by sustained pressure being placed on a particular part of the body. This pressure interrupts the blood supply to the affected area of skin.
Pressure ulcers are easily diagnosed by looking at them. However, health professionals prefer to prevent ulcers developing in the first place, so it's important to assess a person's risk of developing them.
Treatment options for pressure ulcers include regularly changing position, special mattresses and dressings, and, in severe cases, surgery.
Even with the best possible medical care, complications can arise from grade three or grade four pressure ulcers and can be occasionally life-threatening.
As part of your treatment plan, your care team will discuss with you the best way to prevent pressure ulcers. This may include changing position, checking your skin and a healthy diet.