Preventing Pressure Injuries

This information will explain how you can prevent pressure injuries.

About Pressure Injuries

A pressure injury is a type of injury to your skin and the tissue underneath it. It’s caused by too much pressure on a bony area of the body, such as your tailbone, buttocks, elbows, or heels. It can also be caused by wearing a medical or other device that rubs against your skin.

Pressure injuries can be painful. They can appear as a red patch of skin or as an open wound or ulcer. Bed sores are a type of pressure injury.  

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Risk Factors for Pressure Injuries

Risk factors for pressure injuries include:

  • Lying in bed or sitting in a chair for long periods of time.
  • Not being able to move by yourself.
  • Losing control of your bowel or bladder.
  • Having poor nutrition.
  • Having fragile skin or skin that breaks easily.
  • Having an existing pressure injury including those that have healed or closed.
  • Having difficulty knowing what’s going on around you, due to medication, fatigue (feeling unusually tired or weak), or hearing and vision changes after treatment.
  • Using medical devices that touch your skin, such as oxygen tubing.


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Preventing Pressure Injuries

Move around

  • When you’re sitting or lying down, make sure to move around and change your position often. Even small changes help.
    • If you’re changing positions in a bed or chair, lift your buttocks; do not drag your body.
    • If you’re staying in bed, change your position at least once every 2 hours. Ask your family, doctors, or nurses to help you change your position, if needed.
  • Raise the head of the bed as little as possible, unless your medical condition makes it unsafe to lie flat. This will put less pressure on your buttocks.
  • Put pillows or foam wedges between your knees and ankles to keep them from touching. Also, place a small pillow under your lower legs to keep your heels off the bed.
  • If you’re in a wheelchair or must sit in a chair for long periods of time, change your position at least once every hour. Don’t sit on doughnut-shape pillows. Sit on a regular, rectangular-shaped pillow instead. If you need suggestions about a type of pillow, speak with your doctor or nurse.

Take care of your skin

  • Shower and bathe as necessary to reduce moisture from urine, stool (feces), or sweat..
  • To prevent dry skin, apply creams lightly and gently to your skin.
  • If you lose control of your bowels or bladder, tell your doctor or nurse right away
  • Don’t rub or massage the skin over any bony parts of your body. This can hurt your skin and the tissues underneath it. Check your skin at least once a day. If you have any medical equipment, remove it and check the skin underneath it once a day. Ask your family, doctors, or nurses to help you check your skin, if needed. Tell your doctor or nurse if you feel any pain or see areas that are:
    • Red
    • Cut or open
    • Blistered
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of liquids. If you’re on a restricted diet, speak with a dietitian for suggestions. You need to eat well for your skin to stay healthy.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you’re concerned about the health of your skin. They will work with you and give you more suggestions to help prevent pressure injury.

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