As if being confined to a bed or wheelchair isn’t bad enough, bedsores are a constant threat to the health and comfort of the bedridden person. They are created by consistent pressure on one part of the body, usually a bony bit like the heel or back.

The pressure reduces the circulation of blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to that area. The first sign of an imminent bedsore occurs when the skin over the area receiving pressure becomes red and puffy, which shows that water is collecting there. An untended bedsore will ulcerate. If the ulcer progresses, it can tend to be rather nasty and notoriously difficult to heal.

Also known as Trophic Ulcers, Pressure Sores and Stasis Ulcers.

Why Me?

People who are paralysed, or injured and forced to stay still for a long time are most likely to develop bedsores.

What To Do


  • Avoid sugar. High blood sugar will increases the chance of the bedsore becoming infected.
  • Drink plenty of water, one to two litres daily, to flush your kidneys and help your skin.
  • Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, especially raw food. Consuming as much ‘live’ food as possible encourages healing.
  • Foods that increase the circulation include ginger, garlic and chilli.
  • A light diet is best, but it must include adequate protein for healing purposes: for example clear chicken and meat broths, miso soup, legumes, and seeds.

Herbs and Supplements

  • Circulation is vital for the prevention and treatment of bedsores. Take 500 iu of vitamin E daily.
  • Herbs that improve circulation include: gingko biloba, rosemary and ginger.
  • Coenzyme Q10 increases the oxygenation to all cells; take 30 mg daily.
  • If the bedsore has ulcerated, aloe vera gel will help heal and dry the wound.
  • Squeeze the contents of a vitamin E capsule onto a healing bedsore, but only if the ulcer has fully dried.
  • Zinc and vitamins C and A help the healing process. Take a supplement of each, or a combined supplement daily.
  • A lotion containing zinc, or zinc sulphate applied to an open ulcer will facilitate healing.
  • Herbs which may be applied topically to hinder infection and help healing include golden seal, echinacea and myrrh.
  • A compress made with comfrey or cabbage leaves is a traditional and very effective cure.
  • Honey is an old-fashioned but effective cure.
  • Herbs that help heal skin infections include Calendula and Echinacea.

Other Steps

  • A vigorous massage (on unbroken skin) of the arms and legs, back and bottom improves the blood and lymphatic circulation. Massage with talc, vitamin E cream, or any massage oil. Add a few drops of essential oil… for instance lavender is good for healing skin sores and calms the nervous system; rosemary stimulates circulation and relieves muscular stiffness. Wash and dry the skin after an oily massage. Often the only touching you receive is for practical purposes such as changing of dressings, bathing, catheters, etc. Massage provides a deeper level of caring. A massage a couple of times a week will prove to be good medicine.
  • If possible, change your position every 15-20 minutes during the day. However, if you are unable to move under your own steam there are mechanised air mattresses which shift air from one side to the other, alleviating the pressure.
  • Remove anything that may apply pressure, such as rumpled sheets or crumbs.
  • A sheepskin mattress protector is invaluable.
  • Keep dry. Damp skin promotes bedsores. Dry thoroughly and talc after bathing. Keep scrupulously clean and dry, particularly after any accident in bed involving loss of control of the bowel or bladder.
  • Early morning or late afternoon sunshine is magic for healing bedsores. Try 30 minutes under a UV lamp if you can’t get out into the sunshine.
  • Don’t smoke! Cigarettes are notorious for inhibiting circulation.
  • Take 30 minutes of passive (such as physiotherapy) or active exercise twice daily. Keep your joints and muscles mobile, and improve circulation. The type of exercise depends of course what injury or disability you have. One of the best exercises is swimming or moving in warm water.

At a glance

Good food
Ginger, garlic, chillies. Raw food. Protein.
Food to avoid
Remedies to begin
Coenzyme Q10, vitamins E, C, A and B complex, zinc, aloe on ulcer, vitamin E cream when dry.
Sunshine, massage, exercise, don’t smoke.
The confined person in particular needs to be touched, stroked and cuddled.