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skin - pressure sores

Note: We must say that we are only trying to be a guide. Please do not take what is written here as the final word. Consult a health professional for more comprehensive information in relation to your personal needs.


Risk factors


Any person can get a pressure sore. Persons with reduced or no sensation such as spinal cord injury (SCI) victims are more susceptible.
  •   Limited mobility can place pressure on an area for extended periods.
  •   Moisture from bladder or bowel accidents can additionally help to cause skin breakdowns.
  •   Excessive heat can cause skin irritations and breakdowns in skin folds.
  •   Transfers with increased spasticity can cause the skin to graze.

Any redness that does not disappear within 30 minutes after the pressure is releases is a sign of the beginnings of a pressure area.


The Four Stages of Pressure Sores


Stage 1: Damage is limited to the top two layers of skin - the dermal and the epidermal. The skin is not broken, but the skin does not turn white or blanch (capillary refill) after touching.

Stage 2: Damage has extended beyond the top two layers to the adipose tissue. The skin is also now slightly broken. The sore appears to be an abrasion, blister or crater.

Stage 3: Damage has extended through the superficial layers of skin and adipose tissue down to and including the muscle. The ulcer appears to be a dark crater and other damage may be present.

Stage 4: Damage includes the destruction of the soft tissue and involves bone and/or joint structures.



  •   Check your skin twice a day - once in the morning and once at night.
  •   Use correct equipment - seat cushion, mattress, sheepskins, and pillows.
  •   Move often - sitting for prolonged periods inhibits blood flow.
  •   Eat a balanced diet.
  •   Drink the recommended amounts of fluids - 8-10 glasses of water per day.
  •   Protect your skin from harm.
  •   Do not smoke - smoking decreases oxygen supply to the skin.
  •   Do not abuse drugs or alcohol.   



You should see a health professional for advice. The best treatment for the sore is to stay off the area affected. This may involve prolonged bed-rest.
See diagram below (click on image to enlarge).
For further information download the Spinal Care Handbook pdf file.