Information for the public



One of the best ways of preventing a pressure ulcer is to reduce or relieve pressure on areas that are most likely to develop pressure ulcers (for example, bony parts of the body). This is done by moving around and changing position.

You should be encouraged to change position often and at least every 6 hours. For adults at high risk and for babies, children and young people this should be even more often (at least every 4 hours).

If you can't move yourself, you should be offered help to do so – special lifting equipment may be used to do this.

You should also be shown how to reposition yourself, and shown examples of the equipment available to help prevent a pressure ulcer (such as mattress overlays and cushions).

Your healthcare professional should explain why repositioning is important. A play expert may help children who are anxious about moving.

Pressure redistributing equipment

The term 'pressure redistributing equipment' is used in this information to describe any item, such as a mattress or an overlay (a layer placed on top of a mattress), that either spreads out the pressure or removes pressure regularly from different parts of the body. (They may also be called 'pressure reducing', 'pressure relieving' or 'pressure redistributing devices'.)

If you use a wheelchair or sit for long periods of time, and have a pressure ulcer or are at risk of developing one, you may also be offered a special cushion.

If you are in a hospital or care home, or are at high risk of developing a pressure ulcer, you should be given a mattress (cot mattress for babies) that is designed to relieve pressure and help prevent pressure ulcers from developing.

Babies, children and young people at risk of developing a pressure ulcer on the back of the head should have a special pillow or pad.

Barrier creams

If your skin is too wet, or if it is dry and inflamed, you may be offered a 'barrier cream'. This cream protects the skin and helps prevent pressure ulcers developing.

Treatment you should not be offered

You should not be offered skin massage or rubbing to prevent a pressure ulcer, because this could damage fragile skin.

  • Information Standard