Pressure injuries start as red, blue, or purplish patches on the body. They don't blanch, or turn white, when touched and they get worse over time. These patches can quickly develop into blisters and open sores. The sores can then become infected and grow deeper until they reach muscle, bone, or joints.
Pressure injuries are found on
areas of the skin that are closest to bone and have little fat to pad them. This
includes the heels, hips, elbows, ankles, the back, and shoulders. The affected skin may
feel warm, smell bad, and look swollen. A fever, chills, or confusion can develop if the
infection spreads to the bloodstream, progressing to septic shock if untreated.
In the worst cases, pressure injuries can become life threatening. That's why it's crucial to contact a healthcare professional at the first sign of a pressure injury—often a soft, red patch of skin that stays red for 30 minutes even after the pressure is relieved. In people with dark skin tones, call a nurse or another healthcare professional if a patch of skin turns darker or is warm to the touch.