(Pressure Sores; Pressure Ulcers; Bed Sores; Decubitus Ulcers)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
A pressure injury is damage to the skin and the tissue below it. It is due to long term pressure or friction on the skin.
It often forms over bony areas such as:
Untreated pressure injuries can get worse. They need treatment right away.
Prolonged pressure slows or blocks blood flow to the skin. This can cause damage to the skin. Some areas of skin will die and can cause serious illness.
This condition is more common in older adults and those with:
Long term health conditions that increase the risk of pressure injuries include:
Symptoms of a pressure injury may include:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
The goal of treatment is to avoid further injury and heal the wound.Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Proper care will let the wound heal. Steps may include:
Surgery may be need for large wounds. The doctor can remove dead tissue to let the area heal faster. Skin can also be taken from another area of the body to help close large wounds.
To ease pressure on the skin:
Wounds are less likely to happen in healthy skin. Steps for healthy skin include:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Alderden, J, Rondinelli, J, Pepper, G, et al. Risk factors for pressure injuries among critical care patients: A systematic review. Int J Nurs Stud. 2017 Jun;71:97-114.
Pressure injury of the skin and soft tissue. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pressure-injury-of-the-skin-and-soft-tissue#GUID-726E7C43-DD36-4E0E-A1A1-47E498C1C3D9. Accessed December 21, 2020.
Pressure injury stages. National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel website. Available at: https://npiap.com/page/PressureInjuryStages . Accessed December 21, 2020.
Taking care of pressure sores. University of Washington Medicine website. Available at: sci.washington.edu/info/pamphlets/pressure_sores.asp. Updated December 21, 2020.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated: 12/21/2020
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