Identifying Pressure Ulcers

Skin breakdown, particularly pressure ulcers, are a concern for any assisted living resident.  As a caregiver it is important to monitor the skin of the residents you care for, particularly those who are at greater risk of skin breakdown.  Such as residents with diabetes, circulatory problems, incontinence, and/or limited mobility.

We have discussed pressure ulcer prevention in previous Tuesday Tips.  This week we are reviewing the signs of a pressure ulcer developing that direct care staff should watch for, and report.

The following is adapted from the National Institutes of Health:

Pressure ulcer signs and symptoms

  • Red skin that gets worse over time
  • Nonblancheable redness (stays red when pressed) on the skin
  • The area forms a blister, then an open sore

Pressure sores most commonly occur on the:

  • Buttocks
  • Elbow
  • Hips
  • Heels
  • Ankles
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Back of head

Pressure sores are grouped by their severity. Stage I is the earliest stage. Stage IV is the worst.

  • Stage I: A reddened area on the skin that, when pressed, does not turn white. This is a sign that a pressure ulcer is starting to develop.
  • Stage II: The skin blisters or forms an open sore. The area around the sore may be red and irritated.
  • Stage III: The skin now develops an open, sunken hole called a crater. There is damage to the tissue below the skin.
  • Stage IV: The pressure ulcer has become so deep that there is damage to the muscle and bone, and sometimes to tendons and joints.

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