Bed sores are painful injuries that occur due to prolonged pressure on the skin. They’re often the result of sitting or lying in the same position for a long time.
Also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bed sores can lead to all kinds of health problems. If you or someone you know has bed sores, consult with your doctor immediately. Discover some home remedies and bed sore treatments.
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What Causes Bed Sores?
The cause of bed sores is prolonged pressure on the skin that prevents healthy blood flow.
If you have trouble shifting your body position or are receiving oxygen, you may be at risk of developing pressure injuries or bed sores. People who suffer from muscle spasms may be more prone to getting bed sores and may need special care.
If you or someone you care for is at risk, read our bed sore prevention and treatment tips.
Bed Sore Treatment and Prevention at Home
- Reposition your body every one to two hours in bed and every 15 minutes if in a wheelchair. Be careful while moving yourself or someone else. Tugging on the skin can cause friction, which can worsen bed sores.
- Special mattresses and assistive devices can help relieve pressure on the body. Specially designed foam, low air pressure mattresses, and sheepskin overlays can reduce skin irritation. Ask your doctor for suggestions on pressure-relieving devices and methods.
- The friction from slipping in bed or a chair can worsen bed sores. Make sure to position yourself so you won’t slide.
- Keep skin clean and dry, especially of bodily fluids.
- Look to make lifestyle changes. Losing weight, controlling your blood sugar, and quitting smoking may help the healing process.
- Ask your doctor about light stretching exercises that can help improve blood circulation.
Caring for Bed Sores
If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from pressure sores, treatment is necessary. Contact a doctor right away for guidance.
Observe bed sores carefully and look for signs of infection, such as:
- Foul smell
Treatment for bed sores depends on the stage and depth of the wound.
- You can clean stage-one ulcers with mild soap and water and cover with a moisture-barrier lotion.
- More advanced bed sores may require medical care. Your care team may clean the wound with saline and cover it with a special bandage.
- If a wound becomes infected, you may need to take antibiotics.
To learn more, visit the UPMC Department of Dermatology website.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.