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How Can I Recognize the Early Stages of a Pressure Ulcer?


Updated June 30, 2014

Question: How Can I Recognize the Early Stages of a Pressure Ulcer?
Pressure ulcers have a way of sneaking up on you so you often don’t know there is a problem until the damage is done. If you have determined that your loved one is at risk for developing one, it’s important to check their skin daily for any signs that an ulcer has begun.

Not sure if your loved one is at risk? Pressure Ulcers: Know the Risks


Recognizing the Signs

When checking the skin for signs of a developing pressure ulcer, always compare the bony areas that are most commonly affected to the surrounding skin. Signs that a pressure ulcer is beginning to form may include:

  • Color changes – Skin over bony areas (lower back, hips, heels, elbows, etc.) may appear reddened and may or may not blanch white when pressed. Skin may also appear bruised, having a blue, purple, or black color.
  • Temperature changes – Compared to skin surrounding the affected area, the beginning stage of a pressure ulcer may feel warm to the touch or cool.
  • Changes in consistency of skin – The beginning stage of a pressure ulcer may make the affected skin feel firm to the touch or may make it feel boggy. Boggy skin can best be described as feeling as though it’s filled with fluid.
  • Changes in sensation – Your loved one may start complaining about pain, tingling, or itching in affected areas.

If you notice any of these early warning signs, alert your healthcare provider immediately. If you haven’t already done so, implement the steps to prevent a pressure ulcer from forming:

Pressure Ulcers: Prevention is Key!

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