Bedsores, cause, stages, prevention, and treatment.

Bedsores images

Bedsores are injuries or wounds to the skin and the underlying tissues as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin. Mostly affects people who are immobile for long periods of time e.g;

  1. Those in wheelchairs.
  2. Bedridden may be due to a coma.
  3. Those with prosthetic devices. 

Bedsores develop on parts where bones sit closest to your skin, such as :

  1. Elbows.
  2. Heels.
  3. Hips.
  4. Back.
  5. Buttocks.
  6. The tailbone.

These wounds can develop into large, deep wounds thus leading to infection when not treated. Other names used to refer to bedsores are:

  • Pressure sores.
  • Pressure ulcers.
  • Pressure wounds.
  • Pressure injuries.
  • Decubitus ulcers.

The following are disease conditions likely to increase the risk of one developing bedsores;

Causes of bedsores

Bedsores occur when there is pressure on the skin layer known as the epidermis leading to a lack of blood supply. Contributing factors for bedsores are:

  1. Pressure- blood carries oxygen and nutrients to tissues, thus when there is constant pressure on any body part it leads to less blood flow. Failure of blood flow leads to damage/death of tissues, especially areas that have no muscles or fat layer e.g. tailbone and shoulders.
  2. Friction- when fragile skin rubs against clothes or bedding it makes it vulnerable to injury.
  3. Stretching of the skin due to two surfaces moving in the opposite direction. This can be due to sliding down in an inclined position e.g. from a bed.

Stages of bedsores

  • Stage 1- For light-skinned individuals the skin may appear to be red/pinkish and tender on touching.
  • Stage 2 – a blister-like wound is seen on the skin.
  • Stage 3 –  a wound that is noticeable, on to the skin’s fatty layer.
  • Stage 4 – wounds can penetrate all three layers of the skin thus exposing the muscles, tendons, and bones.

Symptoms of bedsores

Risk factors.

  • With exposure to stool and urine, the skin is more vulnerable.
  • Immobility results in poor health or spinal injury.
  • Poor nutrition and hydration – diet should have proteins, vitamins, and minerals without forgetting fluids so as to maintain healthy skin.
  • Lack of sensory perception especially when one has spinal cord injuries, can lead to one not being aware of the warning signs to change in position.
  • Medical conditions affecting blood flow e.g. vascular disease increases the risk of tissue damage.

Complications of bedsores

  1. Bone and joint infections- joint infections damage cartilage plus tissues while bone infection reduces joint and limb functions.
  2. Non-healing wounds can develop into a type of squamous cell carcinoma if treatment is not given in time.
  3. Can lead to sepsis.
  4. Cellulitis where the skin infection can also affect the connected soft tissues. This can lead to inflammation and swelling of the affected areas.



  1. Cleaning and dressing of wounds so as to prevent contamination by covering them with bandages.
  2. Use of pain relivers e.g ibuprofen.
  3. Damaged tissues should be removed.
  4. Use of surgery to treat large bedsores that fail to heal.
  5. Giving palliative care to the sick as it helps to reduce stress thus increasing recovery.
  6. Reducing pressure on affected areas by repositioning the sick.
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