Skin Breakdown

What is skin breakdown?

Skin breakdown occurs when blood flow to your skin is limited or cut off altogether. Left untreated, skin breakdown can lead to infection, amputation or even death.

Causes of skin breakdown

Pressure sores (also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers) are the most common type of skin breakdown, and they occur when the skin is under significant pressure for an extended period. Causes of skin breakdown include:

  • Prolonged periods of staying still, whether in bed, sitting or elsewhere
  • Regular use of a wheelchair without proper padding
  • Consistent wearing of clothes or shoes that are too tight
  • Persistent poor sitting posture
  • Poor circulation

Symptoms of skin breakdown

Redness and skin agitation are early signs of bedsores. As skin breakdown advances, you may see:

  • Blisters
  • A wearing away or tearing of your skin in the affected area
  • Breaks in your skin
  • Maceration (softening and whiteness) of your skin
  • Swelling
  • Development of a blue color in the affected area


The first step in treating skin breakdown is to release pressure on the affected area. Next, your care team will clean your wound, dress it and remove damaged tissue. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to remove broken-down tissue and prevent infection.

Serious bedsores can take weeks to improve, and pain medicine, antibiotics and dietary improvements may be part of your recovery process.

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Treatments for Skin Breakdown

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Symptoms and Screenings for Skin Breakdown

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Causes and Preventions for Skin Breakdown

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Education and Resources for Skin Breakdown

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Support groups for Skin Breakdown

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Learn More about Skin Breakdown

Vidant Health can connect you to health care professionals to help you understand your condition and guide you through the treatment process. Let’s chat.

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