Bedsores 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, bedsores can lead to all kinds of health problems. If you or someone you know has bedsores, consult with your doctor immediately.
What Causes Bedsores?
The cause of bedsores 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 bedsores. People who suffer from muscle spasms may be more prone to getting bedsores and may need special care.
If you or someone you care for is at risk, read our bedsore prevention and treatment tips.
Treating and Preventing Bedsores at Home
- Re-position 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 bedsores.
- 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 bedsores. 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 Bedsores
If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from bedsores, contact a doctor right away for guidance.
Observe bedsores carefully and look for signs of infection, such as:
- Foul smell
Treatment for bedsores 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 bedsores 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.