SynopsisCodesLook ForDiagnostic PearlsDifferential Diagnosis & PitfallsBest TestsManagement PearlsTherapyReferences

View all Images (5)

Stage 1 pressure injury - Pressure Ulcer Staging
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Stage 1 pressure injury - Pressure Ulcer Staging

Contributors: Ansa Ahmed MD, Sally-Ann Whelan MS, NP, CWOCN, Lisa Wallin ANP, FCCWS, Art Papier MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


A stage 1 pressure injury is defined as nonblanchable erythema of a localized area of skin, usually over a bony prominence. Apart from the color change, the skin may feel painful and have a different temperature than the surrounding skin. This is especially relevant in darkly pigmented individuals in whom the only visible indication may be skin that is a different color than the surrounding area. A stage 1 pressure injury has intact skin; however, further pressure will quickly result in skin breakdown. 
A pressure injury results when there is localized damage to the skin and underlying tissue as a result of compression between a bony prominence and an external surface. Damage is caused by the forces of pressure, shear, friction, and moisture. Typical sites of formation are the sacrum, followed by the heels.

A primary cause of pressure injury formation is immobility. Constant pressure for a time period of 2 hours is all that is required to initiate an ischemic event and cause ulceration. Other risk factors that predispose to ulcer formation include incontinence, nutritional deficits, old age, decreased mental faculties, and malnutrition.

These ulcers may go on to develop into stage 2 ulcers, or treatment may halt their evolution to further stages.

When examining the ulcer, observe the following:
  • Location on the body
  • Staging of the ulcer
  • Size of the ulcer, which should include width and the length in centimeters
  • Skin around the edges of the ulcer – The periwound skin should be assessed for color, texture, temperature, and integrity of the surrounding skin.
  • Presence or absence of pain
  • Odor, if present or absent
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel 2016 updated staging system also includes the following:
  • Medical device-related pressure injury (describes an etiology) – Results from the use of devices designed and applied for therapeutic purposes. Injury generally conforms to the pattern or shape of the device. Stage using the staging system.
  • Mucosal membrane pressure injury – Found on mucous membranes with a history of a medical device in use at the location of the injury. Cannot be staged due to anatomy of tissue.
Related topic: Pressure Injury (overview)


L89.91 – Pressure ulcer of unspecified site, stage 1

1163217004 – Pressure injury stage 1

Look For

Subscription Required

Diagnostic Pearls

Subscription Required

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

To perform a comparison, select diagnoses from the classic differential

Subscription Required

Best Tests

Subscription Required

Management Pearls

Subscription Required


Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Last Updated:07/17/2016
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Stage 1 pressure injury - Pressure Ulcer Staging
A medical illustration showing key findings of Stage 1 pressure injury : Buttocks, Erythema, Heel, Nursing home resident, Occipital scalp, Sacral region of back, Skin warm to touch, Tender skin lesion, Bedridden patient
Clinical image of Stage 1 pressure injury - imageId=3969571. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Thin, erythematous plaques on the lower back and buttock.'
Thin, erythematous plaques on the lower back and buttock.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.