Nutrition and Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers occur when something continually rubs or places pressure on the skin. Pressure on the skin can reduce blood flow causing the skin to die and an area of breakdown to occur. Pressure areas most commonly occur on the buttocks, elbows, hips, heels, ankles, shoulders, back and the back of the head. It is important to identify those patients most at risk in order to prevent pressure ulcers. If any of the following are present, your patient may be at risk for a pressure ulcer or worsening of an existing pressure ulcer:

  1. Functional dependence
  2. Bed or chair-bound
  3. Difficulty chewing/swallowing
  4. Poor nutritional status (dietary intake < 75% of daily needs, weight loss of >5% in 30 days, 7.5% in 90 days, or 10% in 6 months, tricep skinfold in depleted range)
  5. Dehydration
  6. Poor circulation
  7. Stool and/or urinary incontinence
  8. Poor skin condition
  9. History of pressure ulcers
  10. Advanced age

A healthy diet can help prevent and treat pressure ulcers. Proper nutrition keeps your skin healthy and allows it to rebuild in the event of damage. Consuming adequate protein, zinc and vitamin C can help a pressure ulcer heal. At times, a multivitamin/mineral supplement is necessary if adequate food cannot be consumed. However, it is always best to obtain adequate nutrition from foods first. Try to get at least one good source of vitamin C and zinc daily. A supplement can be helpful if a person is already deficient in vitamin C and zinc, but too much zinc can interfere with the absorption of other minerals and should not be taken in excess. When it comes to protein, most people can meet the increased protein needs for wound healing by consuming 2 to 3 servings of dairy foods and 2 to 3 servings of other high protein foods daily. Some people may need a protein supplement to meet protein needs for healing.

Sources of Vitamin C Sources of Zinc Sources of Protein
Citrus fruit
Tropical fruits
Red and green bell peppers
Green vegetables
Tomatoes and tomato juices
Whole-grain foods
Wheat germ
Dairy foods
Dry beans and peas
Nut butters
Soy foods


Hospice of Huntington

P: 304.529.4217 Toll-Free: 800.788.5480

P.O. Box 464 | Huntington, WV 25709
1101 Sixth Avenue | Huntington, WV 25701