You have been diagnosed with a pressure injury. This is also called a bedsore or decubitus ulcer. This is a breakdown of skin and tissue. Pressure injuries can happen when you are unable to change position, or when you must stay in a bed or a chair for a long time. Here’s what you can do to prevent, watch for, and help heal these injuries.
Check your body daily for any signs of skin redness or open wounds.
Turn or change your position at least every 2 hours. If you can’t move yourself, ask someone to help you move.
If you spend a lot of time in a chair, reposition yourself every 15 minutes. If you cannot move yourself, have someone move you at least once an hour.
Ask about special products, such as mattresses and chair cushions, that can help reduce pressure on your skin.
Avoid doughnut-shaped cushions or any cushion that does not support you completely.
Exercise your body to stay as flexible as possible. Tense and relax your muscles. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Rotate your wrists and ankles. Get help if you can’t do this for yourself.
If needed, have a family member, friend, or caregiver bend and straighten your arms and legs every day to keep you from getting stiff.
Keep your skin clean and moisturized. Ask your healthcare provider about products that clean and protect the skin.
Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If your provider recommends it, see a dietitian for help.
You are at greater risk for pressure injuries if you have any of the following:
Body areas with little or no feeling (sensation)
Body areas that have nonstop pressure because of positioning or assistive devices
Any new or repeated injury to the skin
A reddened or darkened area of skin that does not go away within 30 minutes of easing pressure on that site by moving and changing your position
Skin cracks, blisters, peels, or breaks in the skin
Open skin that oozes or drains
Keep pressure off the sore and the area around it. If the sore is on your back, try lying on your side or stomach. Pressure wounds will never heal unless the pressure against the wound is relieved. You must be careful to keep pressure off these areas at all times.
Keep the sore clean. Protect it from urine, stool, and other irritating or infectious things.
Don’t massage the area around the pressure injury. This can cause extra tissue damage. Also, don’t massage any of the bony parts of your body. These are areas where the bone lies right under your skin and pushes against your skin.
Don’t touch or try to remove scabs without medical help. Talk to your provider about products that help pressure injuries heal. There are also products that protect the area from infection and protect the skin around the sore.
Small, shallow sores may heal without any problems. More serious pressure injuries need close follow-up. They are more likely to get worse quickly and to become infected. Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your provider.
Call your provider right away if you have any of the following:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider. If you have chills, take your temperature.
Pus, bloody drainage, or odor from the sore
Redness or swelling around the sore
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
Exposed bone or other deeper structures in the sore
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.