Diagnosing pressure ulcers 

Pressure ulcers are easily diagnosed by looking at them. However, health professionals prefer to prevent ulcers developing in the first place, so it's important to assess a person's risk of developing them. 

As part of the risk assessment process, the following will be considered:

  • your general health
  • your ability to move
  • whether you have any problems that may affect your posture
  • whether you have any symptoms that may indicate an infection
  • your mental health
  • whether you have had pressure ulcers in the past
  • whether you have urinary incontinence or bowel incontinence 
  • your diet
  • how well your blood circulation system is working

As part of the risk assessment, you may be referred for blood and urine tests. Blood tests can be a good way of assessing your general state of health and whether your diet is providing enough nutrition.

Urine tests can be used to check how well your kidneys are working and whether you have a urinary tract infection, which can be a cause for concern if you are incontinent or if you have had spinal damage.


If you are thought to be at risk of developing pressure ulcers, but you are not staying in a hospital or care home, you may be advised to regularly check for early signs of the condition.

Look out for areas of discolouration and patches of skin that feel unusually spongy or tough to the touch. Use a mirror to check parts of your body that can be difficult to see, such as your back or buttocks. Contact your GP or your healthcare team if you notice any signs of damage.

Page last reviewed: 10/09/2014

Next review due: 10/05/2017