Published: 04 April, 2016
Do you remember when … you were young and never wanted to get out of bed – how you’d do anything to lay there for just another few minutes. But I bet you never thought that staying in bed (or a chair) for too long, in one position might be harmful to you?
The risk of developing pressure sores increases dramatically if you stay in one position for too long – that’s why we all have a natural jiffling instinct – to relieve pressure on our most precious organ – the skin. It’s also why poorly people who are in hospital or bed bound are much more at risk of developing a pressure sore, especially, if they are unable to move themselves and their ‘bony bits’, such as heels, ankles, elbows, hips, back of head and coccyx remain in one position for a long time. Pressure sores can develop very quickly and if they are not attended to promptly can cause some very nasty wounds indeed.
So, the advice is (and this includes carers):
- Check risk areas often – you may need to use a mirror to see awkward areas
- If possible signs of damage are noticed (redness which doesn’t go away after being pressed)* tell someone in your health care team straightaway
- It is important to move and change position yourself as often as you can – or get someone to help you do so.
Some people may be more at risk of getting a pressure sore:
- If they have problems moving or cannot change position by themselves without help
- If they cannot feel pain over part or all of their body
- If they are incontinent
- If they are seriously ill or undergoing surgery
- If they have had pressure sores in the past
- If they have a poor diet and don’t drink enough water
- If they are very old or very young
- If they can neither mover nor feel their bottom and legs
- Older people who are ill or have suffered an injury, for example a broken hip.
How do you check your skin?
If you notice a red area on your skin (particularly on a pressure point), place two fingertips on the red area and apply pressure for 5 seconds. When the fingers are removed, one of two things will have happened:
- The area that was pressed may be white. This will gradually return to pink, which means that there is no underlying damage (pressure sore). Redness is a normal reaction when a person stays in one position for a long time. When the person moves, the skin colour returns to normal.
- The area that was pressed remains red when the fingers are removed. This is the first sign of a pressure sore developing and you should contact your doctor’s surgery for advice. The person is very likely to develop deeper skin damage, resulting in a shallow break in the skin which can then become a deep open wound (a pressure sore). This is why it is important to move position as much as possible.
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