Bedsores can happen when a person is bedridden or otherwise immobile, unconscious, or unable to sense pain. Bedsores are ulcers that happen on areas of the skin that are under pressure from lying in bed, sitting in a wheelchair, or wearing a cast for a prolonged time. Bedsores are also called pressure injuries, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers.
Bedsores can be a serious problem among frail older adults. They can be related to the quality of care the person receives. If an immobile or bedridden person is not turned, positioned correctly, and given good nutrition and skin care, bedsores can develop. People with diabetes, circulation problems, and poor nutrition are at higher risk.
A bedsore develops when blood supply to the skin is cut off for more than 2 to 3 hours. As the skin dies, the bedsore first starts as a red, painful area, which eventually turns purple. Left untreated, the skin can break open and the area can become infected.
A bedsore can become deep. It can extend into the muscle and bone. Once a bedsore develops, it is often very slow to heal. Depending on the severity of the bedsore, the person's physical condition, and the presence of other diseases (such as diabetes), bedsores can take days, months, or even years to heal. They may need surgery to help the healing process.
Bedsores often happen on the:
Bedsores are divided into 4 stages, from least severe to most severe. These are:
A wound is not assigned a stage when there is full-thickness tissue loss and the base of the ulcer is covered by slough or eschar is found in the wound bed. Slough may be tan, grey, green, brown, or yellow in color. Eschar is usually tan, brown or black.
Specific treatment of a bedsore is discussed with you by your healthcare provider and wound care team and based on the severity of the condition. Treatment may be more difficult once the skin is broken, and may include the following:
Healthcare professionals will watch the bedsore closely. They will document size, depth, and response to treatment
Bedsores can be prevented by inspecting the skin for areas of redness (the first sign of skin breakdown) every day with particular attention to bony areas. Other methods of preventing bedsores and preventing existing sores from getting worse include:
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200