What is a Pressure Injury: Causes, Stages, and Prevention
6 min reading time
Pressure injuries, often referred to as pressure sores, pressure ulcers or bedsores, are skin injuries that result from prolonged pressure on the skin. They typically form in areas where the skin is in close proximity to bones, such as the heels, hips, lower back, and elbows.
Certain individuals are more susceptible to pressure sores. Elderly adults, especially those with limited mobility, are at a higher risk due to challenges in changing positions frequently. Additionally, people with medical conditions affecting blood circulation, like diabetes, are also more prone to developing these sores. But why do they happen, and how to prevent pressure injury, especially in elderlies?
Our blog will guide you through everything you need to know about pressure injuries – from the nitty-gritty of their causes to actionable strategies that can help keep these skin concerns at bay.
What causes pressure injuries?
There are various reasons why pressure injuries or bedsores occur:
Reduced blood flow due to constant pressure - Imagine sitting or lying in one position for an extended period – the weight of your body can press down on specific points. This pressure compresses the blood vessels and prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the skin and tissues. Over time, this can cause skin breakdown.
Friction and shear: Friction occurs when the skin rubs against a surface, like bedding or clothing. Shear happens when two surfaces move in opposite directions – for example, when you slide down in a bed or chair. These forces can damage the fragile skin, especially when combined with pressure.
Moisture: Excess moisture on the skin can weaken its protective barrier and make it more susceptible to damage. Moisture can also increase friction, which, as we discussed earlier, is a factor in pressure injury development.
Medical conditions: Individuals with medical conditions that affect blood flow, such as diabetes, vascular diseases, or spinal cord injuries, are at a higher risk of developing pressure injuries.
Limited mobility: People who are bedridden, confined to a wheelchair, or have limited mobility due to medical conditions are more likely to experience pressure injuries.
Age: Elderly individuals might have thinner skin that's more fragile. Additionally, as we age, the skin's ability to repair itself diminishes, making it less resilient to pressure-related damage.
Pressure injury stages
Pressure injuries progress through different stages as below:
Deep tissue injury
We start to pay particularly close attention to pressure wounds at Stage 2 of pressure injury development. This stage marks a significant point where the skin breaks down, leading to the formation of an open sore or blister-like wound. Detecting and addressing pressure wounds at this stage can help prevent further progression and complications.
How to prevent pressure sores
Preventing pressure sores requires a combination of strategies to minimise prolonged pressure, friction, and moisture on the skin such as:
Regular repositioning: Changing positions frequently is essential to relieve pressure on areas prone to pressure sores. Individuals who are bedridden or seated for extended periods should aim to shift their weight every two hours.
Use supportive devices: Specialised cushions, mattresses, and overlays designed to help reduce pressure on vulnerable areas, like heels and hips, and provide a more comfortable surface for those who spend extended periods sitting or lying down.
Maintain skin hygiene: Regular gentle cleansing is crucial to prevent skin breakdown. Use mild cleansers and pat the skin dry instead of rubbing.
Barrier creams: Applying barrier creams creates a protective layer on the skin's surface, serving as a shield against moisture, friction, and irritants. This can be especially useful for areas prone to sweating or incontinence.
Optimise nutrition: A balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals supports the body with the building blocks it needs to repair and regenerate damaged tissues. Supplementation can play a complementary role in providing essential nutrients that might be lacking from regular dietary intake.
Stay hydrated: Proper hydration keeps the skin supple and less susceptible to damage. Adequate fluid intake is essential for maintaining overall skin health and bodily functions.
Monitor skin: Regularly inspect the skin for any signs of redness, irritation, or changes. Early detection is key to preventing pressure sores from progressing to more severe stages.
Manage moisture: For individuals with incontinence, using moisture-wicking products and changing wet clothing promptly is crucial. Excess moisture can weaken the skin's protective barrier and increase the risk of skin breakdown.
Proper clothing: Loose-fitting, breathable clothing reduces friction and pressure on the skin. Avoid tight clothing that can create unnecessary pressure points.
Exercise and movement: Engaging in regular, gentle exercises improves blood circulation, which in turn promotes skin health. Movement also helps prevent muscle atrophy and maintains joint flexibility.
Address underlying conditions: Managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, vascular diseases, and other health issues is crucial. These conditions can compromise blood circulation and increase the risk of pressure sore development.
Why barrier creams can help with pressure injury?
The main active ingredient in many barrier creams is often a mineral compound like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These minerals have the ability to create a physical barrier on the skin's surface, which helps shield it from external factors.
Soodox™ Soothe and Protect cream stands out as a noteworthy solution for pressure sore prevention due to its natural composition, primarily centred around zinc oxide. Applying Soodox barrier creams to areas prone to pressure sores can help maintain skin integrity and reduce the risk of developing these painful skin injuries.
In conclusion, pressure sores are manageable with proper knowledge and preventive measures.While the information shared in this blog is based on general knowledge and research by our team, it should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about pressure sores or need guidance on effective management strategies, it's always advisable to consult a healthcare professional.