A pressure injury is a sore on your skin or the tissue below it. You can get them when a part of your body is under pressure for a long period of time. The pressure can come from lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair for too long. Pressure injuries are also called bedsores or pressure sores.

Pressure injuries often happen over bony areas, such as your tailbone, hip, or heel of your foot. They can also be caused by medical devices, such as splints or feeding tubes, that rub against your skin.

The first sign that a pressure injury is forming is usually skin that turns red or purple. People with light skin usually get red patches. People with dark skin usually get purple or blue patches. The skin may get darker and start to hurt, burn, or itch. Sometimes a pressure injury can turn into an open wound. A pressure injury can look like a red patch of skin, an open wound, or a sore.

Pressure injuries are sometimes painful.

Risk Factors for Pressure Injuries

A resident may be at risk of getting a pressure injury if they:

  • Had one in the past.
  • Lay in bed or sit on a chair for long periods of time.
  • Have trouble moving some parts of your body or trouble changing positions
  • Are very sick or are recovering from surgery and need to lay in bed for a long time.
  • Have conditions that can affect how much blood flows to their skin, such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Have conditions that can reduce the amount of pain or discomfort they feel, such as nerve or muscle disorders. This can cause them to not notice when a pressure injury is forming.
  • Do not get enough nutrients from your diet or do not drink enough liquids to keep your skin healthy.
  • Have weak skin, skin that breaks easily, or broken skin.
  • Use medical devices that touch the skin, including feeding tubes or orthopedic devices, such as a cast or boot.
  • Have increased skin moisture from sweating, having a fever, or incontinence (not able to control bladder or bowel actions). Moist skin can break easily. This increases your risk of getting a pressure injury.