Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers are painful skin injuries due to long periods of pressure on the affected area. At MaineHealth, our expert team works to provide quality treatment for patients with pressure ulcers.

What is a pressure ulcer?

A pressure ulcer is a skin injury that often happens to people who are in a chair or in bed for long periods without changing positions. They can develop quickly and are commonly found on skin that covers bony areas of the body. 

Pressure ulcers often are called bed sores, because they may develop in people confined to their bed for long periods of time.

Pressure ulcers commonly are found on the heels, lower back, ankles or elbows. They can be hard to treat and may lead to serious infections if not treated correctly.

Talk with your doctor, nurse or therapists if you have pressure ulcers or if you are at risk for developing them due to being immobile for a period of time.  They can help you find ways to prevent or lessen them.

Pressure ulcer treatment

Treating pressure ulcers can be difficult. The most important step in healing is to make sure the sore does not get worse.

Here are some things your healthcare provider might suggest that can help with healing:

  • Take the pressure off the affected area.

  • Use special padding under the area that is affected

  • Change position often.

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of protein.

  • Cover the sore with a clean bandage. Your doctor will tell you what type you will need.

  • Keep the healthy area around the sore clean.

  • Your doctor might tell you take antibiotic medicine.

  • See a doctor or nurse about removing dead tissue around the wound.

Some people are at higher risk of getting a pressure ulcer. Here are risk factors for getting pressure ulcers:

  • Age: As part of the natural aging process, your skin gets thinner and weaker.  This makes it more easily injured. People who are 70 and older are more likely to get pressure ulcers.

  • Lack of movement: Staying in one position for a long period of time puts pressure on your skin that can result in a sore. People who are not mobile are more likely to get pressure ulcers, including people confined to beds or wheelchairs.

  • Poor diet: Not eating enough protein can lead to slower healing times and unhealthy skin.

  • Another health condition: Having a health issue that affects healing, like diabetes, may make you more prone to having pressure ulcers.

  • Smoking reduces blood flow to the skin and causes dryness which can make people more susceptible to pressure ulcers.