Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Pressure Sores

Pressure sores or ulcers are places on the skin that have become irritated and are vulnerable to infection. They occur most often at the bony points of the body such as the back of the head, shoulder blades, buttocks, and heels. Prolonged periods of immobility or frictional rubbing on the skin causes pressure sores. These ulcers commonly occur in bed-ridden patients as well as immobilized patients. Pressure sores can be classified into four stages. Stage I sores are characterized by redness that does not go away when the pressure is removed, in this case the skin is still intact, these sores can itch or be painful. Stage II sores are evidenced by skin damage to the outer layers of skin, and they resemble open blisters. Stage III sores will have a deep wound that can extend through the outer layers of skin down to the muscle, at this stage of damage blood supply to the affected areas becomes poor and the wound can be difficult to heal. Stage IV sores are the most serious types of sores; damage here can extend through all the layers of skin down to the muscle, tendon, and bone. They can often lead to fatal infection. Treatment includes cleaning the wounds to prevent infection, removal of dead tissue, dressing the more serious wounds to keep them moist, and make sure that the patient receives a healthy diet, especially Vitamin C and Zinc. Surgery is also an option for pressure sores in order to improve cosmetic appearance and to remove and repair damaged tissue. It is also important to try to prevent pressure sores altogether. This can be done by repositioning wheelchair patients every 15 minutes and bed-ridden patients every 2 hours. There are also many garments, pads, cushions and other objects designed to prevent pressure sores.