The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between perioperative corticosteroids administration and the incidence of pressure ulcers (PUs) in cardiovascular surgical patients. A retrospective analysis was performed on data from consecutive patients who had cardiac surgery in 2012. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship between perioperative corticosteroid administration and the incidence of surgery-related PU (SRPU). A total of 286 cardiac surgery patients were included in this study; of these, 47 patients developed 57 SRPUs, an incidence of 16·4% [95% confidence interval (CI): 12·3–21·2%). The SRPU incidence was significantly higher in corticosteroid-administered group compared with groups not receiving corticosteroids (43·8% versus 14·8%, Pearson's χ2 = 9·209, P = 0·002). The crude odds ratio (OR) was 4·472 (95% CI: 1·576–12·694). After performing multivariate logistic regression analysis, the adjusted OR was 2·808 (95% CI: 1·062–11·769). This result showed that perioperative corticosteroid administration was an independent risk factor for PUs in cardiovascular surgical patients. Therefore, it is recommended that in order to prevent PU perioperative corticosteroids should be administered with caution to cardiovascular surgical patients.