What Causes Skin Breakdown?

Skin breakdown, also called pressure sores or bedsores, are caused by pressure on the skin over a long period of time, according to Mayo Clinic. Immobility due to prolonged illness or injury is the most common cause, but friction and shearing forces on the skin exacerbate skin breakdown.

Being overweight or underweight, having diminished feeling in a body part, experiencing bowel or bladder incontinence and spending most of the day in one position are additional risk factors for pressure sores, states MedlinePlus. So are being older, having altered awareness, having poor nutrition and having medical conditions that reduce blood flow, notes Mayo Clinic.

Pressure sores commonly develop over bony areas of the body, says Mayo Clinic. These areas include the tailbone; at the elbows; along the shoulder blades or spine; at the back and sides of the head; and at the heels or ankles.

Pressure sores can be treated if caught early. At the earliest stages of skin breakdown, the skin may be warm and red, states MedlinePlus. It may feel either spongy or hard to the touch. Erosion of the top layers of the skin may be visible. At the first sign of any of these symptoms, contact a doctor.