Bed Sores

Theo Braddy sits behind his desk at the CILCP offices

Bed Sores

Do you have limited mobility and spend most of your time in a wheelchair or bed?

Keep alert for bedsores – also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers.


  • Long-term pressure or friction between the skin and an outside surface.

What to Look For:

  • Skin discoloration followed by a blister and a deep crater-like ulcer.
  • Most commonly found in bony areas—heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone.

Potential Damage:

  • Can result in permanently dead tissue.
  • Damage to the skin and underlying tissue.


Most Important:

Try to shift your positioning often, minimizing the pressure on any given area of your skin.

For People Who Use Wheelchairs:
  • Shift weight often—try to re-position yourself, or be re-positioned every 15 to 60 minutes.
  • Consider a tilting wheelchair— wheelchairs that can be tilted to relieve pressure from either side of the body.
  • Use cushions—cushions made from foam or gel filled with water or air can ensure the body is positioned well and distribute weight evenly.
  • If you have mobility and strength in your arms:
    • Practice “wheel-chair push-ups,” lifting yourself a few inches off your seat, therefore breaking contact between the skin and the wheelchair.
For People Who Spend a Lot of Time in Bed:
  • Reposition frequently—try to be repositioned every hour.
  • Special mattresses—foam mattress pads, or mattresses filled with water or air can relieve pressure and distribute weight.
  • Cushions—use cushions to relieve the pressure of skin to bed contact. For example: place cushions behind the calves, to elevate the feet and remove contact with the mattress.
  • If you have mobility and strength in your arms:
    • Use repositioning devices— bars that hang above the bed to lift and reposition yourself often.
Prevention Through Skin Care and Nutrition:
  • Clean your skin often with soap and warm water, pat dry.
  • Apply talcum powder to your skin to remove excess moisture.
  • Apply lotion to dry skin.
  • Change bed linens frequently.
  • Inspect your skin daily to discover early signs of irritation.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to urine or feces— change bed pads, diapers, catheters or rectal tubes often.
  • Choose a healthy diet.
  • Drink water and remain hydrated.
  • Avoid tobacco.
Follow this link to view a health alert from the PA Department of Human Services on maintaining skin integrity and preventing pressure injuries.
Need help?
CILCP’s Live Well Ally, HomeCare for Living Well Attendant Care Services, can assist you with an in-home attendant, who will monitor your health and mobility, and help you avoid bedsores, and other preventable complications. Learn more about HomeCare for Living Well »

The following information has been collected by Living Well With A Disability from various sources to provide individuals who would like to live well with their disability suggestions for preventative healthcare. While we believe this information to be accurate, we make no guarantees. All individuals should consult their personal physician regarding preventative healthcare and prior to making any health decisions.

Under no circumstances shall CILCP or its employees be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, punitive, or consequential damages which may result in any way from your use of the information included as part of the Living Well With A Disability website.

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