A pressure sore is a lesion that develops on the skin and underlying tissues due to unrelieved pressure usually over a bony prominence. The skin and tissues rely on an adequate blood supply for oxygen and nutrients. When tissues are compressed for an extended period from hours to days, blood supply can be cut off, leading to development of a sore.
Pressure Sore (Skin Ulceration)
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Pressure sores result from lying or sitting in one position for too long a time. Prolonged pressure cuts off the blood supply to tissues that are compressed between a bony area and a mattress, chair, or other object. Without oxygen and nutrients, the tissue starts to die.
Several factors contribute to the development of pressure sores including:
- Pressure—Pressure sores can result from the inability to change position or to feel discomfort caused by pressure. People with normal mobility and sensation change position automatically, without thinking.
- Friction—Even friction from pulling someone across bed sheets can damage small blood vessels that supply the skin tissue.
- Poor nutrition
- Moisture—This can come from sweating due to an elevated temperature (fever) or leakage of urine or stool.
- Obesity—Extra weight increases pressure on the skin over the bones and joints.
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Peter Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.