Pressure injury prevention

A pressure injury is also known as a pressure ulcer, pressure sore or bed sore. They are caused by unrelieved pressure and/or shear forces on any part of the body. Anytime you lie or sit down in the same position for a period of time, pressure is applied to different parts of your body. Any object that has continuous contact with your skin has the potential to cause a pressure injury.

A pressure injury may look minor such as redness of the skin, but they can hide more damage under the skin surface. A pressure injury can develop quickly, cause significant pain, become infected, leave scars and may delay your recovery by weeks or months.

Signs and Symptoms:

Pressure injuries usually occur over bony areas–especially the heels, elbows, hips, buttocks and tail bone but can occur anywhere there is continued pressure to the skin.

Signs to look for when doing a skin inspection include:

  • Painful areas
  • Red, purple, or blue skin
  • Blister
  • Swelling
  • Dry patches
  • Shiny area
  • Warm areas.


Any person of any age maybe at risk. Factors that may increase the risk of developing a pressure injury include:

  • general poor health or weakness
  • limited mobility
  • poor nutrition and hydration
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • lack of sensory perception e.g. diabetes, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis
  • urinary and faecal incontinence
  • excess moisture or dryness of skin
  • past history of a pressure injury.


What you can do to prevent pressure injuries include:

  • Move-change your position frequently when in bed or sitting in a chair.
  • Look after your skin-keep your skin and bedding dry, avoid massaging your skin over bony parts of the body. Use a mild skin cleanser.
  • Eat a healthy diet.

Other resources:

Pressure injuries prevention - consumer video from Queensland Health on Vimeo.

Help and assistance:

Consult with your health professional for advice if you have any concerns.

Last updated: 1 June 2023