The skin is the largest organ of the body and it acts as a waterproof protector for all of the internal organs, it is comprised of several layers including the Epidermis which is the outer layer and is a protective multi-layered self renewing structure which varies in thickness depending on which part of the body it covers. Under this is the Dermis, this is a layer of connective tissue which provides the skins elasticity and strength, it also contains sensory nerve endings, blood and lymph vessels, sebaceous and sweat glands. Under this layer is the Subcutaneous fat layer, this layer separates the skin from the underlying bone and muscle with a rich blood supply it also serves as an insulator and energy store. Pressure ulcers develop when a large amount of pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short period of time. Or, they can occur when less force is applied but over a longer period of time. The extra pressure disrupts the flow of blood through the skin. Without a blood supply, the affected area of skin becomes starved of oxygen and nutrients. It begins to break down, leading to the formation of an ulcer.
These are the most common areas which are at risk of pressure ulcers they involve bony areas such as around the heels, hips, elbows and back. Other areas are buttocks thighs, back of head, ears, and shoulders
Factors which might put an individual at risk of pressure sores are Reduced mobility or Immobility, Acute illness, Sensory impairment, Level of consciousness, Poor nutrition, Poor vascularity, Anaemia, Extremes of age, Weight, Drugs, Infection, Severe, Chronic or Terminal illness, Dehydration and a previous history of Pressure ulcer damage.
Some of the interventions that can be taken to help minimise the risk of pressure ulcers occurring in those that are at risk, one method is to that the individuals is position is changed on a regular basis, another is to use a pressure relieving device such as a special mattress, bed frame, seat...