Prevention of Pressure Sores
Prevention is always better than cure and that is very true for
lessening the chances of getting a pressure sore. Knowing
your own body and being aware of your environment is equally
to look for:
Look for any
reddened areas, rashes, cuts, bruises, scrapes, or indentations
from seams or elastic binding. Check also for blisters, bumps,
insect bites, dry flaky skin or pimples. Check toenails for any
redness or pus formation around the end of the nail. Whenever
you notice a problem, try to figure out its cause and make any
changes necessary to prevent further problems. The first step in
curing any skin problem is to eliminate the cause.
you changing your position often enough to relieve pressure over
both bed and wheelchair, change your position according to your
skin tolerance. (For information on establishing skin tolerance,
see our pamphlet on pressure sores. Pressure releases in a
wheelchair can be done by pushing straight up, leaning side to
side, bending forward over your knees, reclining the seat of
your electric wheelchair or having someone tilt you back in your
manual chair. Always use your wheelchair cushion. In bed, body
parts can be padded with pillows to keep bony prominences free
of pressure. Get into the habit of checking your body position
for correct alignment and pressure-free positioning of bony
Equipment you use:
Are you using the best
equipment? Does it fit you properly? Here are some concerns:
- Does it support your back? Are your footrests the
right height? Are you using the best wheelchair cushion?
- Are you using a good mattress?
- Is the correct size being used? Is it being changed
- Are the straps too tight?
- Do they fit properly? Do you do skin checks after wearing
of temperature call for extra caution in protecting your skin:
- Avoid sunburn by covering up or using sun block. Don't put
plates of hot food on your lap without protecting your skin.
When riding in a car, keep your feet away from the heat outlet
and check vinyl seats before you sit on them to make sure they
aren't too hot. Any exposed pipes in your kitchen or bathroom
sink should be wrapped to protect your legs from burns. When
you go camping, protect your feet by sitting a safe distance
from the campfire.
- Be sure to dress warmly to prevent frostbite if you are out
in cold weather for long periods of time. Dressing in layers
of clothing will provide extra warmth. Avoid putting frozen
foods on your lap.
- Your skin tolerances can change due to the increased body
temperature that occurs with a fever. You may find that you
cannot lie in one position as long.
A correct or average body weight for your height is desirable
- Being overweight can cause increased pressure on bony
prominences. Delayed healing may occur because there are fewer
blood vessels in fat tissue.
- Excess pressure over bony prominences may occur because
there is less padding (muscle and fat) over these surfaces. In
addition, underweight persons may lack the proper nutrition to
maintain healthy skin.
Clothing / Shoes:
fit is important. Avoid sitting on seams and back pockets, and
always check your skin carefully after wearing new shoes or
- Loose clothing can form wrinkles that put pressure on your
- Overly tight clothing can hinder circulation.
Over-indulgence in alcohol -
or any other drug - may interfere with attention to your
personal care needs. For example, while under the influence you
might forget to turn yourself, or be too weak to transfer
and depression can have a similar effect by causing you to lose
interest in your personal care and pay less attention to your
skin and general health.
Spasticity may cause your arms and/or legs to bump against an
object, or to fall off your armrest or footrest, and be injured.
Spasms may cause your skin to rub against something (for
example, the sheets on your bed), which could produce an open
Stages of Pressure Sores