When you hear the term “bedsores” you probably think of it as an issue that only affects elderly patients in nursing homes. The truth is, however, the term bedsore is a nickname for pressure ulcers or pressure sores which can affect anyone bedridden for a long period of time.
- Multi-layer foam construction
- Comfort and support
No one likes to think about getting sick, especially with something that takes you out of commission for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, sometimes the best medicine is rest but lying in bed for long periods of time comes with its own risks. Pressure ulcers or bedsores tend to develop on the skin covering bony areas of the body, particularly in people who are bedridden or have a limited ability to change positions in a bed or chair.
In this article, we’ll explore the underlying cause of pressure ulcers and talk about how to prevent bed sores. We’ll discuss the benefits of upgrading to a pressure-relieving mattress and you’ll see our picks for the best mattress to prevent bed sores.
What is the Best Mattress for Bed Sores?
- Best Overall: Saatva Solaire
- Best Budget-Friendly: Nectar
- Best Luxury: Loom & Leaf by Saatva
- Best Memory Foam: Puffy Lux
- Best Gel Foam: Idle Sleep Gel Plush
- Best Dual-Sided: Layla Memory Foam
- Best Hybrid: Leesa Hybrid
- Best for Couples: Helix Midnight Luxe
- Best for Pain Relief: Nolah Original
- Best for Cooling: Bear Hybrid
- Best for Durability: DreamCloud
What Causes Bed Sores?
Though typically an issue for frail and elderly adults, pressure ulcers or bedsores can develop in anyone who sits or lies in the same position for long periods of time. It can even come from wearing a cast.
A pressure ulcer is an injury to the skin and the underlying tissue that results from prolonged pressure on the skin. They tend to develop on the skin covering bony areas of the body such as the hips, heels, ankles, and tailbone. Bedsores develop when the blood supply to the skin is cut off for more than a few hours, causing the skin to die. Left untreated, the skin may break open and become infected.
Here are the four stages of bedsores:
- Stage 1: The area becomes red and warm to the touch. On darker skin tones, the area may take on a blue or purple tint. Some people complain of pain, itching, or a burning sensation.
- Stage 2: The area becomes more damaged and may develop an open sore or blister. Pain worsens and the skin around the wound may become discolored.
- Stage 3: The area develops a crater-like appearance caused by damage below the skin’s surface.
- Stage 4: The skin becomes severely damaged and a large wound develops. The muscles, tendons, bones, and joints may become involved and there is a significant risk for infection.
Bed sores can develop over the course of hours or days and most heal with treatment. Some, however, never heal completely and may have a greater risk of reopening. When a person’s ability to move becomes limited, it’s important to take precautions against bedsores and to contact the doctor if you don’t see improvement in early signs of bedsores within 24 to 48 hours of a change in position.
Tips for Preventing and Relieving Pressure Ulcers
The three primary contributing factors for pressure ulcers are pressure, friction, and shear. Constant pressure on certain parts of the body (particularly bony areas) reduces blood flow which cuts off the skin from essential nutrients. Friction, when the skin rubs against clothing or bedding, makes fragile skin more vulnerable to injury and shear occurs when two surfaces move in opposite directions.
Here are some tips for preventing and relieving bedsores:
- When lying in bed or sitting down, change positions frequently to avoid putting stress and pressure on the skin – if your mobility is limited, you may need to ask someone to help.
- Keep your skin clean and dry with a daily cleansing routine – use a gentle cleanser and pat the skin dry rather than rubbing it.
- Use moisture barrier creams to keep the skin clean and to protect against moisture – if needed, change clothes and bedding frequently.
- Inspect the skin daily and check for signs of developing pressure sores – if you see any, be sure to avoid putting pressure on that area for the next 24 to 48 hours.
- If pressure ulcers become open wounds, you may need to see a doctor for debridement to remove the damaged or infected tissue – in very extreme cases, skin grafting may be necessary.
- Use padding in wheelchairs and in bed to reduce pressure on the body – it may help to change to an entirely different mattress or use a pressure relief mattress topper.
Left untreated, bed sores can become infected which may spread to the soft tissues and even the muscle beneath. Infected pressure sores can even affect the bones and joints, leading to serious complications like septic arthritis and osteomyelitis. Long-term, nonhealing wounds like Marjolin’s ulcers can even develop into a certain type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
What to Look for in an Anti Bedsore Mattress
Generally speaking, mattresses should generally be replaced every 7 to 10 years, depending on the materials and quality. The older the mattress your mattress is, the less supportive it may be. Support is always important, but when it comes to prevent bed sores pressure relief is a key factor.
Upgrading to a new mattress gives you access to modern materials, many of which are designed with both support and pressure relief in mind. Upgrading your mattress isn’t a guaranteed solution for how to prevent bed sores, but it may reduce your risk. Plus, there are many additional benefits associated with an improvement in support and pressure relief.
Here are some tips for choosing a new mattress:
- Look for responsive materials that conform to the contours of the body, relieving pressure as needed – memory foam is a popular choice.
- Consider the mobility of the patient and how much assistance they need moving – memory foam doesn’t have as much bounce as some material, so it may be difficult to change positions. Latex is a similar pressure-relieving material but has a little more bounce.
- Think about upgrading to an adjustable bed or a customizable mattress you can change from time to time to relieve pressure on certain parts of the body.
- Don’t forget to consider temperature regulation – some materials tend to sleep hot which may cause you to sweat, increasing your risk for pressure ulcers. Look for cooling materials.
- Consider the firmness level of the mattress. Most experts recommend medium-firm, but you may need a slightly softer mattress, depending on your comfort level. Just remember a mattress too firm or too soft may increase pressure and make bedsores worse.
Now that you understand the benefits of upgrading your mattress and you have an idea what to look for, you’re ready to start shopping! Read on to see our picks for the best mattress for pressure ulcers.
The Best Mattress to Prevent Bedsores
If you or a loved one suffers from bedsores, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine the grade of the ulcer and recommend the best course of treatment. Changing your mattress is not a guaranteed solution, but it may help prevent pressure ulcers from developing or worsening. Take a look at our recommendations for the best pressure relieving mattresses.
Here are our top picks for the best pressure relief mattress for bedsores:
Best Overall: The key to preventing bedsores is to avoid putting too much pressure on any area of skin for an extended period of time. Hospitals typically use customizable air mattresses which change the level of pressure from time to time, but this isn’t always an option in the home. For a similar experience with customizable firmness, consider the Saatva Solaire mattress. This mattress features six luxurious layers of comfort and 50 levels of firmness you can adjust with the touch of a button.
The Saatva Solaire delivers personalized comfort and gives a new definition to the meaning of air mattress. This mattress features a combination of vulcanized air chambers and gel-infused memory foam with 5-zone Talalay latex for back support and maximum pressure point relief. The mattress supports your body from head to toe, but you can adjust the firmness level as needed to relieve or redirect pressure. The mattress is built inside the Power Edge Enclosure for reinforced support around the perimeter and the in-rail air inflator operates quietly and invisibly.
- Pros: Adjustable to 50 firmness levels, free white glove delivery, incorporates gel foam and latex
- Cons: Significantly more expensive than many models, may lose some air overnight
Best Budget-Friendly: Shopping for a new mattress can be tough, especially if you’re not looking to spend a small fortune. The good news is Nectar offers an all-foam mattress designed to deliver the best in pressure relief, all at an affordable price. What you’ll really love about this mattress, however, is the generous 365-night trial period. Try the Nectar mattress for a full year to see if it’s what you need to prevent bed sores. If not, simply return it for a full refund.
The Nectar foam mattress is built on a base of stabilizing support foam, topped with a transition layer of adaptive hi-core memory foam. On top is a layer of gel memory foam that distributes your body weight and body heat, keeping you cool and comfortable all night long. This mattress delivers optimal pressure relief, especially around the shoulders and hips, without sacrificing the support you need for proper spine alignment. This mattress is rated 6.5/10 in firmness, making it just right for most sleepers.
- Pros: Long 365-night trial period, multi-layer foam construction, comfort and support
- Cons: May not be firm enough for heavy sleepers, foam may be slow to respond
Best Luxury: You can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep and if a new mattress can help prevent bedsores, it’s worth its weight in gold. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a fortune for a quality mattress. Loom & Leaf by Saatva delivers uncompromising quality without an exorbitant price. This mattress delivers handcrafted luxury through the use of proprietary materials and, as an added bonus, it is uniquely designed to be used with Saatva’s Lineal Adjustable Base.
The Loom & Leaf mattress is designed with multiple layers of premium foam and a quilted organic cotton cover. The base consists of several layers of support foam to ensure the optimal degree of comfort as well as contouring support for your spine and body. This combination of layers helps relieve pressure while keeping you comfortable and supported. Whether you’re trying to prevent bedsores or keep them from worsening, this mattress may be just what you need. Keep in mind, however, that it is a little on the firmer side – it comes in two firmness levels, Relaxed Firm or Firm.
- Pros: Made with premium materials, two firmness levels to choose from, designed for adjustable bases
- Cons: Fairly expensive compared to many models, may be too firm for some users
Best Memory Foam: If you’re going to shop for a mattress based on its pressure-relieving benefits, you’ve got to start with memory foam. Designed by NASA, memory foam is known for its contouring properties – it conforms to the shape of your body, preventing pressure points and cradling your body in supportive comfort. Our top pick for the best memory foam mattress for bedsores is the Puffy Lux. Not only does this mattress relieve pressure, but it keeps your body cool for a relaxing, pain-free night of sleep.
The Puffy Lux mattress is designed to deliver the optimal combination of cooling comfort and support with strong pressure relief. This multi-layer mattress is constructed with a base of firm core support foam to create a relaxing but supportive environment for sleep. You’ll also enjoy layers of Body Adapting Dual Cloud Foam in addition to Puffy’s signature Cooling Cloud and Climate Comfort foams. These foams sleep cooler than traditional memory foam, another benefit if you’re trying to prevent bedsores. All Puffy mattresses come with free shipping, a lifetime warranty, and a 101-night sleep trial.
- Pros: Designed for cooling comfort and support, climate-adaptive materials, strong pressure relief
- Cons: Significantly more expensive than many models, may not be firm enough for stomach sleepers
Best Gel Foam: When it comes to pressure relief, memory foam is one of the best options. The trouble with memory foam is it tends to trap heat which can make you hot and uncomfortable at night. If you are trying to prevent bedsores, keeping your skin dry is important. The Idle Sleep Gel Plush mattress is an excellent option because it is made with gel foam rather than traditional memory foam – this material wicks away heat to keep you cool and comfortable without compromising on pressure relief.
The Idle Sleep Gel Plush mattress features an 8-inch high-density foam base for support topped with a 3-inch layer of Idle memory foam. This layer conforms to the contours of your body, but it has greater thermal neutrality than regular memory foam. Next comes a two-inch layer of gel-infused buoyancy foam with an added 1-inch layer of cooling buoyancy foam. It’s all wrapped in a 1-inch Ice Fabric cover with a quilted surface for an added degree of luxury.
- Pros: Sleeps cooler than traditional memory foam, excellent pressure relief, conforms to body contours
- Cons: Could be stronger in edge support, not flippable like other Idle Sleep models
Best Dual-Sided: Whether you’re trying to prevent bedsores from developing or keep them from getting worse, you need to change your position often. Avoiding pressure on any one part of the body is essential but it’s difficult to find a mattress that changes with you. If you’re having trouble finding the right mattress, you might consider a dual-sided model like the Layla Memory Foam. This two-sided mattress is rated Plush (4/10) on one side and Firm (7/10) on the other so you can swap sides as needed for comfort.
The Layla Memory Foam mattress is made with unique copper-gel memory foam that wicks away body heat better than traditional memory foam. As an added bonus, it is naturally antimicrobial which ensures a cleaner sleep. This mattress incorporates a supportive core surrounded by layers of Max Airflow support foam and copper-gel memory foam. Simply choose your desired level of firmness and place the mattress with that side up and flip it as needed. Every Layla mattress comes with free shipping and a 120-night sleep trial – return it for free within that period if you don’t love it.
- Pros: Flippable two-sided design, copper-infused memory foam for cooling, comfort and support
- Cons: Slow response foam may make it tough to change positions
Best Hybrid: If you simply can’t decide what material is best in a mattress, why choose at all? A hybrid mattress combines two or more materials to deliver a custom night of sleep that perfectly suits your preferences. Our top pick for the best hybrid mattress to prevent bedsores is the Leesa Hybrid. This mattress provides edge-to-edge support thanks to the pocket coil base, but also excels in pressure point relief because it is topped with premium foam for contouring and cooling benefits.
The Leesa Hybrid features a supportive base consisting of over 1,000 individual springs that respond to your movement and your sleeping style. On top is a layer of hole-punched foam that delivers cooling, contouring comfort along with the hug and bounce you want in a mattress. This mattress comes with a soft, breathable cover and is rated at a medium-firm level of firmness, about 5-7 on a 10-point scale. Every Leesa mattress comes with a 10-year warranty and a 100-night risk-free trial.
- Pros: Designed for comfort and support, luxury hybrid design, stabilizing pocket coil base
- Cons: More expensive than all-foam mattresses
Best for Couples: When you sleep with a partner, it can be difficult to find a mattress that suits both of your preferences. Helix is a great company to start with because they offer a wide variety of options for all types of sleepers. Our favorite pick is one of their medium-firm mattress the Helix Midnight Luxe. This mattress features a hybrid design and is particularly well-suited to side sleepers. It comes with free delivery, a 15-year warranty, and a 100-night sleep trial.
The Helix Midnight Luxe is rated a medium level of firmness, though there are both firmer and softer options to choose from. This particular model is built on a foundation layer of DuraDense foam under a Zoned Body Shape layer consisting of over 1,000 individually wrapped coils. These pocketed coils respond individually to motion, cradling the body with advanced lumbar support. Over this base, you’ll find layers of high-grade polyfoam, gel visco foam, and memory plus foam which conform to the shape of your body to deliver optimal pressure relief.
- Pros: Luxury hybrid design, medium firmness level, comfort and pressure relief, 100-night sleep trial
- Cons: Fairly expensive compared to some brands, may be too soft for heavy sleepers
Best for Pain Relief: It’s difficult to sleep when you’re in pain. Unfortunately, the wrong mattress can make your pain worse. In many cases, pain at night is related to lack of spinal support and pressure points. If you’re looking for a mattress to help relieve pain by reducing pressure and improving support, the Nolah Original might be the way to go. This classic 10-inch mattress is affordably priced and designed to deliver the ideal combination of cooling comfort, pressure relief, and back support.
The Nolah Original is an all-foam mattress three layers of premium materials. On the bottom is a 7-inch layer of high-density support foam topped with a 1-inch support layer of high-resilience foam. The mattress is topped with two inches of Nolah AirFoam which delivers superior pressure relief while keeping you cool and comfortable. The mattress contours perfectly to your body without trapping heat and it is all wrapped in a custom-made, breathable cover that wicks away moisture. Nolah mattresses ship free and come with a generous 120-night sleep trial.
- Pros: Superior pressure relief, wicks away heat for cooling comfort, excellent spinal support
- Cons: May not be firm enough for heavier sleepers or stomach sleepers
Best for Cooling: If you’re worried about bedsores, pressure relief is probably your primary concern. As long as you choose high-quality mattress, however, you’re probably covered in that area. Another thing to think about is temperature regulation. Preventing bedsores requires you to keep your skin dry which could be a struggle if you tend to sleep hot. If you’re looking for a cooling mattress, we recommend the Bear Hybrid which ships free and comes with a 20-year warranty and a 100-night risk-free trial.
The Bear Hybrid mattress is constructed with six layers to deliver the optimal night of cooling comfort and pressure relief. It all starts with a base of high-density support foam, topped with the Quantum Edge Coil System to ensure proper spine alignment. On top of that is a transition layer of responsive foam, followed by a comfort layer of premium foam that adapts to all sleep positions. The Bear Hybrid mattress represents the perfect combination of luxury comfort and cooling technology. Simply put, you’ll sleep better on this mattress than you ever have before.
- Pros: Combines cooling and comfort, supportive for all body types, relieves sore muscles
- Cons: May not be firm enough for heavy sleepers or stomach sleepers
Best for Durability: Quality is correlated with price for many things, including mattresses. If you’re going to pay for quality, you would also expect the product to last. The DreamCloud mattress is one of our top picks for durability and it is also a good choice if you’re concerned with pressure relief. This hybrid mattress features a comfortable pillow top to relieve pressure but still offers plenty of support thanks to a edge-to-edge coil base. It also comes with a 365-night trial period so you can be sure it’s the right fit for you.
The DreamCloud mattress is topped with a luxurious cashmere blend cover over a quilted Euro top for breathability. Inside the mattress, you’ll find several layers of high-density memory foam set over a pocketed 5-zone innerspring coil system for targeted support. This mattress offers the ideal combination of contouring comfort and pushback support so you can change positions as often as needed and never worry about pressure points. Plus, it is rated Luxury Firm around 6.5 which is just right for most sleepers.
- Pros: Memory foam and encased coils, comfort and support, luxury materials and design
- Cons: Hybrid mattresses tend to be fairly heavy
Dealing with bedsores can be difficult because it isn’t simply a matter of applying an ointment or cream. Though medicated creams may help treat the symptoms, the wound won’t heal if you don’t also address the issue of pressure. That’s where a pressure relieving mattress comes into play.
We want to remind you that our recommendations are not a substitute for medical advice, especially when it comes to an issue like bedsores. We simply aim to help you make an educated decision when it comes to choosing a pressure relieving mattress.
Using the tips and information provided here, we hope you have what you need to start shopping. Talk to your doctor for recommendations specific to you or your loved one’s condition and consider all of your options before making your final choice. Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long does it take to get bedsores? – Pressure ulcers or bedsores can develop in a matter of hours or days, depending on the amount of pressure. The skin starts to die when pressure cuts off blood supply for more than 2 to 3 hours. If left untreated, the skin will become more damaged and may break open and become infected. At the first sign of bedsores, it is important to change position to relieve pressure. If you don’t see any improvement in symptoms within 24 to 48 hours, seek medical attention.
- Can you die from bedsores? – Bedsores are a major risk for frail and elderly individuals who aren’t able to move themselves in bed or in a wheelchair. In the early stages, bedsores may simply involve some skin discoloration and minor discomfort but, left untreated, they can become infected. That infection can spread beneath the skin into the bones and joints – it may even cause sepsis. About 60,000 people die each year from bedsore-related complications
- Are air mattresses good for pressure ulcers? – If you have the money to spend, a hospital-grade air mattress may be the best bed sore mattress. These mattresses deliver alternating levels of pressure to help turn and adjust the sleeper to prevent the development of bed sores. Because they are developed for hospitals, however, these beds don’t come in large sizes and they may not be practical. High-density memory foam mattresses are a good conventional option, though you’ll still need to change positions to avoid long periods of pressure.
- Is a memory foam mattress good for bedsores? – Yes, high-density foam mattresses have been shown to help prevent pressure ulcers from developing or worsening. Memory foam is one of the best options for pressure relief in general. If you are worried about being able to move or change positions in a memory foam mattress, consider an adjustable bed.
- What is the best sleeping position for bedsores? – The key to preventing bedsores is to avoid putting too much pressure on one part of the body for too long. Sleeping flat on your back may help distribute the pressure from your bodyweight more evenly than side sleeping, but it’s still a good idea to change positions throughout the night if you can. You can also try placing pillows under your knees, shoulders, or ankles to relieve pressure in different areas.