Nutrition and its Effect on Pressure Sores and CNH

This article will give you detailed scientific information on the role of nutrition and hydration in the prevention, management and treatment of pressure sores. If you are currently suffering from one or are at risk of such, this information will be invaluable as part of a multi-pronged treatment strategy.

Lack of nutrition and low dietary intake are the main factors in the development of pressure sores (outside of the pressure and friction of the bed / pillow). A range of scientific studies including The National Pressure Ulcer Long-Term Care Study reflect this. For example, in Japan it was observed that 60% of people at age 65 or older suffering from pressure sores also suffered from undernourishment. It is clear that malnutrition leads to an imbalance of energy and protein which leads to the body’s tissue not repairing itself effectively.

Malnutrition and Chondrodermatitis

As stated previously, how well-nourished you are plays a significant role in the healing of your pressure sore. Not being sufficiently nourished leads to several problems, such as reduced collagen synthesis (which, importantly, reduces the stretchy-ness of skin), and decreased activity of antioxidant mechanisms (leading to accumulation of free radicals). Malnutrition also increases the risk of infection. This is particularly important for chronic pressure sores lasting longer than 6 weeks because at this point they are in a critical phase where the body battles to clear the sore of bacteria. This is a challenging process and you are at increased need of protein and energy during this time.

While the optimal nutrient intake to hasten wound healing isn’t fully known, it is understood that the body requires extra energy, protein, zinc, and Vitamins A, C, and E.

High-protein supplements are good at reducing the incidence of pressure sores. It has been documented that pressure sores can be reduced by up to 25% in at-risk people. This is because protein is indispensable for the repair of tissue. It is recommended that protein intake for pressure sore healing be 1.25 to 1.5 g per kg of body weight per day. For people with Stage three of four pressure sores, the level rises to 1.5–2.0 g/kg.

Dietary protein is especially important in elderly people because of the changes in metabolism and body composition associated with aging.

It should also be noted that people with chronic pressure sores actually lose protein through the wound itself. The fluid which leaks out is protein rich and the loss of this reduces collagen synthesis and interferes with wound healing. Collagen synthesis is incredibly important to wound healing but it needs lots of energy to do its job. Therefore, your diet should contain plenty of carbohydrates, fats and protein.

Useful supplements

Copper – this has a role in collagen synthesis

Iron – improves tissue oxygen delivery.

Manganese has tissue regenerating properties.

Zinc is an antioxidant that plays a part in the production of proteins such as collagen.

Vitamin K is also important for the production of proteins required for pressure sore healing.


Beyond nutrition, hydration also plays a critical role in the proper repairing of your skin. Dehydration disrupts cell metabolism and therefore wounds don’t close and heal. Plenty of fluid intake is necessary to support good blood flow to wounded tissue and to stop the skin breaking down any further.

Please be aware that people using pressure-relieving air mattresses are more prone to sweating and therefore may need to take on extra fluids to offset this.

So, to give yourself the best chance of success in treating your CNH, make sure you stay healthy and hydrated, and maintain a sufficient dietary intake. For a clearer picture of what your specific dietary intake should be, consult your doctor or dietitian.