1. Section Editor(s): Hess, Cathy Thomas BSN, RN, CWOCN

Article Content

An overview of chronic wound characteristics.



Predisposing Factors/Cause

Multiple medical diagnoses, age, impaired mobility, decreased mental status, poor nutritional status, incontinence, impaired circulation


Location and Depth

On heels, sacrum, coccyx, occiput, any bony prominences subjected to pressure, friction, or shear; depth ranges from persistent red, blue, or purple area of intact skin (depending on skin color) to deep destruction and loss of tissue


Wound Bed and Wound Appearance

Extensive necrotic tissue may be present (usually greater than suggested by wound's external appearance); extensive undermining, sinus tracts, or tunneling may be present



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Amount varies


Wound Shape and Margins

Usually well-defined; shape frequently is round but will conform to cause of ulcer and may be irregular if large


Surrounding Skin

Should be dry; clinical infection is indicated by redness, warmth, induration or harness, and/or swelling






Must eliminate/reduce pressure, shear, and friction and implement appropriate skin care for healing


Photo: Baranoski S, Ayello E. Wound Care Essentials: Practice Principles. Springhouse, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004.