Information for the public

Treatment and care

Assessing your pressure ulcer

If you develop a pressure ulcer, your healthcare professional should regularly measure it, estimate how deep it is and categorise it by how severe it is to help decide what care you need.

Pressure redistributing equipment

It is very important that you are given the right type of equipment to help reduce pressure. This will depend on where your pressure ulcer is and what is causing it. For babies, infants, children and young people their size, weight and how much they can move should also be considered.

If you have a pressure ulcer you should be given a foam mattress designed to relieve pressure instead of an ordinary mattress. Babies, children and young people with a pressure ulcer should be given a cot or bed mattress or an overlay designed to relieve pressure.

If a foam mattress is not enough to relieve the pressure, you may be offered a more specialised mattress, overlay or bed that relieves pressure from different areas of the body or that moves air or fluid (also called a dynamic support surface).


Making sure you eat well

If you have a pressure ulcer your diet should be assessed by a dietitian or other qualified healthcare professional. They should discuss your diet with you and your family or carers, and if you are not getting enough particular nutrients you may be offered supplements. You should also be offered healthy eating advice.

Babies, children and young people with a pressure ulcer should have their diet checked by a paediatric dietitian or other healthcare professional qualified to assess this age group. They may be offered supplements specifically to treat their pressure ulcer, even if their diet is good and they are getting the right levels of nutrients. Healthy eating advice should be offered to parents and carers of babies, children and young people who have a pressure ulcer.

If you have a pressure ulcer you should also be assessed to make sure that you are getting the right amount of fluids for your age, growth and healing.

Antibiotics and dressings

Your pressure ulcer may need other treatments to help it heal. Your healthcare professional should discuss with you, and your family or carers, the best type of dressing for your pressure ulcer. This discussion should cover:

  • how much pain the pressure ulcer is causing you

  • where on your body the pressure ulcer is

  • how much fluid is leaking out of the pressure ulcer

  • how often the dressing needs to be changed.

Adults who have signs of an infection that has spread should be offered antibiotics.

In addition, babies, children and young people may be offered antibiotics for infections of the pressure ulcer that are spreading. They may also be offered special 'antimicrobial' dressings to help fight infections.

Removing damaged skin

Sometimes it may be necessary to remove the damaged skin and the tissue below from your pressure ulcer – this is called debridement. Skin and tissue can be removed by cutting it away or by using special dressings.

If you are an adult your healthcare professional should check whether you need debridement and discuss the options with you.

Babies, children and young people may be offered debridement if they have a deep pressure ulcer and the tissue around it is dead. This is done using a special dressing, and the tissue should only be cut away if the dressing doesn't work.

Negative pressure wound therapy

If you are an adult you may be offered negative pressure wound therapy, but only if you need many changes of dressing. Negative pressure wound therapy is where suction is applied to the wound.

  • Information Standard