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Pressure Injuries: Risk Factors and Prevention

What are pressure injuries?

Once called bedsores, pressure injuries are localized damage to the skin and underlying soft tissue. They form over bony prominences (like the tailbone and heels) or in relation to medical devices (like a catheter tubing pressing against the skin or oxygen tubing pressing on the ears).

Have you ever noticed that sitting in the same position can get uncomfortable over time?

That is your cue to change positions. But, if you are unable to move or adjust, constant pressure is put on your skin, which restricts blood flow. Without adequate blood flow, the skin and tissue beneath the skin can die and wounds called pressure injuries can form.

Are you at risk?

You are at risk for pressure injuries if you;

  • Must stay in bed or cannot move because of an illness or medical condition.
  • Cannot move because it is too painful.
  • Are going to have surgery that might last 3+ hours.
  • Use a wheelchair or sit for long periods of time.

What should you do if you are at risk or have developed a pressure injury?

  • Talk with your healthcare provider to create a plan.
  • Movement and Comfort
    • You may need to change positions at regular intervals.
    • You may need a special mattress or seat cushion to protect your skin.
    • You may require medication.
    • You may need to pad bony prominences as needed.
  • Skin Care and Cleansing
    • Beyond proper washing and drying your skin, it is important to manage your sweat, and bladder and bowel habits.
    • Gently wash-do not scrub-your skin with a soft cloth.
    • Your healthcare provider may recommend special cleansers and barrier products.
  • Diet and Nutrition
    • Proper nutrition helps to keep skin and muscles strong, which helps prevent pressure injuries and promotes healing if a pressure injury occurs.
      • Calories
      • Protein
      • Amino acids (building blocks of protein-arginine and glutamine are critical in wound healing)
      • Fluids
      • Vitamins and Minerals

If a pressure injury develops, a referral to the Oaklawn Wound Care Center would be appropriate. Wound care centers offer scientific and clinical expertise to deliver the best patient outcomes.

Raise Awareness: Worldwide Pressure Injury Prevention Day

Worldwide Pressure Injury Prevention Day will be celebrated on Thursday, November 16, 2023. This awareness day was first observed in 2013 and is sponsored by the National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel (NPIAP, The objective of worldwide pressure injury prevention day is to increase awareness about pressure injury prevention and education.

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