Pressure Ulcer Glossary of Terms
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Pressure Ulcer Glossary of Terms
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Pressure Ulcer Glossary of Terms
Pressure Ulcers - Introduction


An estimated one million people in North America have a pressure ulcer (also known as a bed sore) on any given day. When pressure to a bony part lasts for a long period, blood flow is decreased and a pressure ulcer or bed sore can form.
Watch for reddened or discolored areas over bony parts, like the tailbone, hips, heels, elbow, shoulder blade or the back of the head.
People may be at risk for pressure ulcers or have pressure ulcers if they:
  • Spend most of the time in bed, for example due to a debilitating disease
  • Spend most of the time in a chair or wheelchair
  • Are immobilized from a stroke, accident, paraplegia or quadriplegia
The risk for pressure ulcers increases with:
  • poor food intake or malnutrition
  • dry skin
  • incontinence of urine or feces (stool)
Glossary of Terms

Acute wound:
a wound that heals as planned, usually within several weeks of injury. Examples include a sunburn, a simple surgical incision, an eye injury, a scrape or a sutured trauma wound.

Bed sore:
layman's term for pressure ulcer, pressure sore or decubitus ulcer. A chronic wound caused by sustained pressure, usually to a bony prominence. Contributing factors include friction, shear and moisture.

Chronic wound:
a wound (or ulcer) that does not heal as planned. Chronic wounds may take weeks, months or even years to heal. Chronic wounds often occur again and again. Examples are diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers (bed sores) and venous ulcers.

drainage, fluid or pus coming from a wound.

the loss of bladder (urine) or bowel (stool, feces) control.

Pressure ulcer:
also called a bed sore, pressure sore or decubitus ulcer. A pressure ulcer is usually caused by unrelieved pressure on a bony part of the body and often occurs in people who are in beds, wheelchairs or chairs for long periods of time.

Primary dressing:
the layer of the dressing that touches the base or bottom of the wound.

Secondary dressing:
the outer layer of the dressing that provides support and protection from the outside environment, such as tape.

an injury, especially one in which the skin or underlying tissues are damaged.