Last updated: 7 February 2024

Next review: 7 February 2025

What are pressure sores?

It is estimated that nearly half a million people in the UK will develop at least one pressure ulcer in any given year.

What is a pressure ulcer?

A pressure ulcer, often known as a pressure sore or bed sore, is damage to the skin and a deeper layer of tissue under the skin. This happens when pressure is applied to the same area of skin for a period of time and cuts off the blood supply.

What are the early signs of a pressure ulcer?

  • Change in skin colour, for example: skin turning redder or darkerĀ 
  • Heat
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Blisters
  • Skin damage

Think SSKIN:

Surface: Are your support surfaces, for example, your bed, cushions and chair, suitable to prevent pressure ulcers? Your nurse or carer can explain different types of equipment and answer any questions you may have.

Skin inspection: Check your skin for pressure damage at least once a day. Look for redness or skin that is darker than normal. Do any areas of your skin feel hot or painful? Also watch out for blisters, dry patches or cracks in the skin.

Keep moving: Moving and changing position reduces the risk of pressure ulcers. Change your position as often as you can, with help from your carers if needed, even if you have a special mattress or cushions.

Incontinence or moisture: Wet or damp skin increases the risk of pressure ulcers developing. Keep your skin dry and clean. Use a barrier cream if it is recommended by your nurse or other healthcare professional.

Nutrition and hydration: Eating well and drinking plenty of fluids reduces the risk of developing pressure ulcers. If you have difficulties eating or drinking, speak to your nurse or carers.

If you see warning signs of pressure sores, contact healthcare professionals on NELFT Single Point of Access on 0300 300 1710.