A pressure injury is any redness or break in the skin caused by too much pressure on your skin for too long a period of time. The pressure prevents blood from getting to your skin so the skin dies. Common places for pressure injuries include bottoms, heels, inner side of knees, and elbows, but there are all sorts of places you can get these injuries.
Pressure injuries can occur when you sit or lie in one position too long. People confined to bed for long periods of time are particularly vulnerable.
Shearing is also a kind of pressure injury. It happens when the skin moves one way and the bone underneath it moves another way. An example of this is when you sit, then slouch.
Pressure injuries are not limited to elderly people.
How can you help prevent pressure injuries?
The easiest way is to think about SKINS
S – Surface: Make sure you are on a supportive surface K– Keep moving: Change your position often I – Incontinence: Keep dry and clean N – Nutrition: Eat healthily and drink frequently S – Skin Inspection: Check for discolouration and soreness
Below are some tips mainly taken from a patient focused pamphlet on preventing pressure injuries sponsored by the NZ Wound Care Society and First Do No Harm.
S - surface
Make sure your mattress provides good support
Use pillows between your knees and ankles if you are in bed for long periods of time
Try to avoid creases in your bed linen
Use clean bed linen
If sitting up in bed, be aware that sliding down the bed can cause a pressure injury to your bottom and heels.
K - keep moving
If you are in bed for long periods, change your position every two to three hours
Move between your back and your side
When you are in a chair, relieve the pressure by leaning forward, or leaning side to side for a few minutes every half hour.
I - incontinence and dampness
Use protective skin barrier creams
Use of incontinence products/pads
Keep your skin dry and clean
Be aware of excessive sweating
N – nutrition
Eat a healthy diet
Drink plenty of fluids
S – skin inspection
Check for any redness over bony areas such as your heels, bottom, elbows