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Pressure Areas

Taking care of your skin

What is a pressure injury?

A pressure injury (also known as a ‘pressure ulcer’ or ‘bedsore’) is an area of damaged skin and flesh caused by staying in one position for too long.

In clinical terms, a pressure injury is described as a ‘localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear

The first sign of a pressure injury is often a discoloured area that does not turn white when pressed. There might be discomfort or pain. If the pressure is not relieved regularly, the damage can range from a blister to a deep open wound. People with darkly pigmented skin may not have a visible pressure injury initially and need close attention.

Why do pressure injuries matter?

55,000 people get a pressure injury every year in New Zealand, even though evidence tells us that 95 percent are preventable. Pressure injuries impact the New Zealand population and health system by prolonging hospital stays, delaying community reintegration, and in the most severe cases cause death. This all leads to a reduced quality of life.

Tips for preventing pressure injuries.

If you are in bed

  • Change your position every two to three hours, moving between your back and sides
  • Use pillows to stop your knees and ankles from touching each other, particularly when lying on your side.
  • Try to avoid creases in your bed linen.
  • If sitting up in bed, be aware that sliding down can cause injury to your bottom and heels.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

If you are in a wheelchair

  • Relieve pressure by leaning forward, lifting with your arms if able, or leaning side to side for a few minutes every half hour.

It’s also important to:

  • Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Keep your skin clean and dry.
  • Ask your health professional for help with any incontinence.

Peer led education videos.

The videos below have been created to enable peer-to-peer education on the importance of pressure injury impact, prevention, and treatment. The content is based on international literature, recent ACC research, and the lived experience of the participants in the videos. The development of this resource is a collaborative work of BAIL and the NZ Spinal Trust funded by ACC of New Zealand.