Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Pressure sores, also called bedsores, or decubitus ulcers, are regions of skin that break down when you sit or lie in one position for too long.
These wounds occur most frequently in areas where your bones are close to the skin, including: your heels, ankles, hips, tailbone, or elbows.
Constant pressure to one of these areas compresses the blood vessels that supply your skin with oxygen and vital nutrients.
Without a sufficient amount of blood flow, your skin’s cells eventually die, and a pressure sore forms.
Pressure sores are categorized by degrees of severity.
A Stage I pressure sore is reddened, inflamed and does not blanch, or become pale, when pressure is applied.
A Stage II pressure sore appears as a blister or an open sore. The area surrounding the sore may be red and irritated.
A Stage III pressure sore involves a full-thickness loss of skin that appears crater-like, and extends to the layer of fat beneath your skin.
Stage IV is the most severe. A stage IV ulcer is a full-thickness wound that extends down to the underlying muscle or bone.
To prevent infection in your pressure sore, your doctor will clean your wound, using water and a mild soap or saline solution.
If your wound is severe, your doctor will debride, or surgically remove, the dead tissue from the pressure sore.
To protect and hydrate your wound, your doctor may cover it with a specialized bandage.