Frequently Asked Questions on Pressure Ulcers


What is a pressure ulcer?

Pressure ulcer is a term used to refer to skin breakdown in an area that has been under prolonged pressure, most commonly seen in bedridden patients or in people who stay in one position too long without shifting their weight. Prolonged pressure, especially in the bony areas of the body, limits the blood supply, causing tissue damage in the affected area. Pressure ulcers usually occur on the hips, backside, and heels.

What is the cause of pressure ulcers?

Pressure ulcers may develop when skin tissues begin to die due to diminished oxygen supply to areas under prolonged pressure. Any condition that results in decreased mobility (i.e. old age or paralysis) or decreased circulation (i.e. diabetes) substantially increases the risk of developing a pressure ulcer. Patients may be unaware of the wounds, because they might be paralyzed, bed-bound, or elderly undergoing treatment for other diseases.

What are the risk factors of pressure ulcers?

The risk of pressure ulcers increase in case of:

  • Confinement to Bed or chair: Such a condition may place excess pressure in certain parts of the body
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control: Increased moisture can heighten risk of pressure ulcer formation
  • Loss of mental awareness: In this a person cannot shift weight independently to alleviate pressure
  • Immobility: when a person cannot shift weight on their own, they are at a greater risk
  • Poor nutrition: when a person is not able to maintain a nutritious diet, the skin can become more susceptible to injury and ulceration.
What complications do pressure sores accompany?

Complications of pressure sores include Infections like Cellulitis (a type of skin infection), Osteomyelitis (a type of bone infection), bacterial infection, Necrotizing fasciitis, Endocarditis (infection of the heart lining), Meningitis, Septic arthritis, Abscesses etc.

How can pressure ulcers be treated?

Pressure ulcers can be treated by following steps.

  • Pressure Removal from wound and other areas at risk
  • Application of a topical dressing to reduce infection and provide a moist environment that promotes growth of the and cellular migration
  • Antibiotics to fight harmful bacteria that inhibit healing
  • Mechanical debridement to remove the diseased, infected, or dead tissue that impairs healing 
  • Physical therapy to improve blood flow, respiratory function, and mental awareness