Understanding pressure sores: How to prevent and manage


Pressure sores are ulcers on the skin that result from prolonged pressure on certain areas of the body, and they are also known as bedsores and pressure ulcers.


Each year, it is estimated that nearly half a million people will develop at least one pressure ulcer1. Most commonly affecting people with limited mobility, this can be a frustrating experience for not only individuals but also those who care for them.


At Sudocrem®, we understand the challenges that treating and managing pressure sores can bring and we’ve shared this guide to explore the condition and its causes in more detail, helping you better manage and alleviate some of the discomfort they bring.

What are pressure sores?


Pressure sores are wounds that develop when constant pressure or friction on one area of the body stops blood from flowing normally, causing damage to cells and the skin to break down.


For those who have limited mobility, sitting or lying in one position for a significant period of time means pressure is applied to the same area or areas of the body and over time this pressure causes pressure sores.


Pressure sores usually form on bony parts of the body, including hips, the tailbone, heels and elbows.


If you are caring for someone who has limited mobility or you yourself have limited mobility, it is important to be aware of the stages of pressure sore development, each of which has varying severity.


Identifying pressure sores early can help you better manage the condition and we have shared the four main stages you should be aware of:


Stage 1: The skin appears discoloured and doesn’t change colour when pressed, this may appear red on white skin or purple/blue on black or brown skin. Although the skin may feel tender, it is not broken.

Stage 2: The skin breaks, forming a shallow pressure ulcer or blister

Stage 3: The pressure ulcer extends deeper into the tissue affecting the fat layer

Stage 4: The pressure ulcer may reach the muscle, bone or joint


 Not all stages of pressure sores can be managed at home. If you suspect a pressure ulcer or experience severe symptoms (e.g. pus, high temperature, worsening pain) please consult a healthcare professional.

What causes pressure sores?

Managing pressure sores can be a very difficult and stressful experience for individuals and their carers, leading to feelings of anxiety and frustration, having a negative impact on quality of life.

Understanding some of the factors which can increase our risk of developing pressure sores is important and we’ve explored some of the main risk factors below:

  • Being underweight: This means you have less padding over bony areas increasing your risk of developing pressure sores
  • Friction: Rubbing of the skin against sheets can cause irritation and chafing
  • Moisture: Damp skin from sweat or incontinence, softens the skin and makes it more susceptible to developing pressure sores
  • Poor diet: Having poor nutrient or fluid intake can increase the risk of pressure sores with the risk increasing in those who are both underweight and overweight

How to prevent and manage pressure sores


It is much better to try and prevent pressure sores from occurring in the first place and if you have limited mobility or are caring for someone with limited mobility, your healthcare provider will be able to carry out a risk assessment and create a tailored plan to minimise the risk of pressure sores occurring.


There are some practical steps you can take to help prevent pressure sores:


  • Relieve direct pressure: keep moving as often as you can to relieve pressure and increase blood flow and circulation
  • Invest in a pressure relieving mattress or cushion: this will help minimise friction
  • Proper skin care management: keep your skin clean and dry and well hydrated
  • Topical treatments: Apply a soothing cream to help alleviate symptoms, such as Sudocrem® Antiseptic Healing Cream to treat inflamed skin

How does Sudocrem® Antiseptic Healing Cream help pressure sores?

At Sudocrem®, we understand how frustrating it can be to manage pressure sores – which is why we are here to help.

Here’s how Sudocrem® Antiseptic Healing Cream can help relieve some of the stress associated with pressure sores:


  • Treats Inflamed Skin: Soothes the skin, helping calm redness and irritation
  • Supports tissue repair: Maintains a moist wound environment which is crucial for tissue repair
  • Barrier function: Forms a protective barrier, helping to reduce friction and pressure on the skin. This not only promotes healing but also helps prevent infection.
  • Mild pain relief: Sudocrem® contains benzyl alcohol which acts as a mild anaesthetic, helping reduce some of the discomfort associated with pressure sores
  • Keeps skin hydrated: Contains a natural emollient which keeps the skin hydrated and supple. When the skin barrier is strong, it is less prone to breakdown minimising the risk of further damage


To use Sudocrem® to treat pressure sores, take enough product to cover the affected area on your fingers and apply using small circular movements to create a thin translucent layer. Do not rub onto the area as this may aggravate it further and break the skin.


Apply as often as needed but remember – a little goes a long way.


Learn More: Explore our website for information on other conditions Sudocrem® can help treat, from nappy rash to eczema. Sudocrem®’s versatility extends beyond pressure sores, so discover its full potential!


  1. nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/skin-hair-and-nails/pressure-ulcers Date accessed April 2024

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