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5 – Unit 31 – Undertake agreed pressure area care

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1.1 Describe the anatomy and physiology of the skin in relation to skin breakdown and the development of pressure sores

The anatomy of the skin includes two primary layers: the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of protective tissue, and the dermis, which lies beneath it. The epidermis consists mainly of cells known as keratinocytes that form a strong barrier between internal organs and environmental agents such as bacteria and viruses. Beneath this layer lies an array of proteins called collagen fibres that give skin its elasticity and strength.

The dermal layer contains sweat glands, sebaceous glands (which produce oil), hair follicles, blood vessels (for nourishment) nerves for sensing touch sensations on the skin’s surface–all embedded in a matrix composed largely of elastin proteins to provide further protection from physical damage while providing flexibility to resist stretching or bending when subjected to force or pressure.

Skin breakdown can occur when external forces cause any combination injury including friction rubbing away at outer layers; shear force pulling in different directions against underlying layers; compression pressure pushing down on soft tissues and joints that can lead to tissue distortion and ischemia, and maceration from wetness causing softening of the skin’s protective layers.

Skin breakdown increases the risk of developing pressure sores (or bedsores) as certain areas may be under chronic pressure resulting in reduced blood flow or trauma, which can ultimately damage underlying tissue structures, including collagen fibres. Pressure sores are characterised by skin discolouration, localised swelling or redness due to increased circulation from inflammation; open wounds which have created an opening for infection, deeper ulcerations with muscle visible at the base; formation of abscesses as a result of secondary bacterial infections; necrosis (tissue death) forming black scabs that slough off after healing process has occurred.

Other answers in the full document:

  • 1.2 Identify pressure sites of the body

  • 1.3 Identify factors which might put an individual at risk of skin breakdown and pressure sores

  • 1.4 Describe how incorrect handling and moving techniques can damage the skin

  • 1.5 Identify a range of interventions that can reduce the risk of skin breakdown and pressure sores
  • 1.6 Describe changes to an individual’s skin condition that should be reported
  • 2.1 Identify legislation and national guidelines affecting pressure area care
  • 2.2 Describe agreed ways of working relating to pressure area care
  • 2.3 Describe why teamworking is important in relation to providing pressure area care
  • 3.1 Describe why it is important to follow the agreed care plan
  • 3.3 Identify any concerns with the agreed care plan prior to undertaking the pressure area care
  • 3.4 Describe actions to take where any concerns with the agreed care plan are noted
  • 3.5 Identify the pressure area risk assessment tools which are used in own work area
  • 3.6 Explain why it is important to use risk assessment tools

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