What factors cause the development of pressure ulcers?

Some of the numerous documented risk factors for the patient are the following:

  • physical inactivity
  • old age
  • reduced mobility
  • generally poor health
  • bad blood circulation
  • cardio-vascular diseases
  • malnutrition
  • anaemia
  • frequent infections
  • incontinence
  • sedatives
  • acute disease
  • neurological diseases
  • terminal stage of illness
  • earlier pressure ulcers

External causes, known as the environmental risk factors, are the following:

  • pressure effects
  • shearing (occurring when different layers of tissue move against each other)
  • friction
  • high temperature
  • long periods of lying or sitting (especially on the body parts exposed to pressure)
  • inadequately applied transport techniques and transport aids

Microclimate, i.e. temperature and humidity between the base and the patient’s skin, are a very important factor in the development of pressure ulcers. Mechanical features of the skin change in response to varying humidity and temperature; the skin becomes sensitive and the risk of pressure, shearing and friction increases.

Diapers and plastic materials may lead to deterioration of both the sitting and lying areas and reduce the possibility of pressure ulcers prevention. Therefore, all “unnecessary” material has to be removed. Using as little material as possible between the patient and the base helps relieve the pressure.

Pressure ulcers develop also because of inadequate care for the bedridden patient, including:

  • infrequent turning
  • uncomfortable base
  • wrinkles on underwear or bed linen
  • irregular hygiene
  • badly set immobilisation
  • diet with low protein content
Most pressure ulcers can be prevented. Only 5% of such injuries have medical background, which MEANS THAT 95% OF THE DEVELOPED PRESSURE ULCERS ARE CAUSED BY INAPROPRIATE PREVENTIVE CARE ROUTINE!