Bedsores are categorized into 4 stages. Stage 1 bedsores are usually mild, as the earliest and least severe stage, and can often be healed with simple remedies and changes to everyday habits. After treatment, these sores can be prevented from returning by regular skin checks and changes in position.
Age is the main risk factor for developing bedsores, therefore many people living in nursing homes are at risk. Bedsores are also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers because they are often caused by pressure put on one part of the body for extended amounts of time.
Identifying a Stage 1 Bedsore
Stage 1 is the most mild type of bedsore. A stage 1 bedsore has not broken the surface of the skin yet, and it can be identified as a spot that feels and looks different from surrounding skin.
A stage 1 bedsore can differ from other skin by being:
- Red or discolored
- Harder or softer
- Warmer or cooler
If you see a spot like this on a loved one, move them so that there is no pressure on the spot. If a spot stays red for over 30 minutes after pressure is relieved, it could be a bedsore.
Another simple test to check for a bedsore is to press down on the suspicious area of skin. Skin with normal blood flow will turn white (this is called blanching) when pressed on and then return to normal color soon after pressure is released. Skin with a stage 1 bedsore will not turn white when pressed on.
Sometimes the warning signs of bedsores are less visible on people with darker skin tones. The blanching test does not always work on darker skin and sometimes the area appears more purple or blue rather than red. Bedsores usually develop in areas where bone has the least amount of muscle or fat covering it.
The most common areas bedsores develop are:
- Back of head
- Lower back
- Tail bone
Although stage 1 is the most mild stage, these sores can be painful, itchy, and irritating to the inflicted person. Stage 1 bedsores should be identified and treated as soon as possible to relieve discomfort and to prevent the sores from getting worse. If sores are treated properly at stage 1, stage 2 sores can be prevented.
Treating Stage 1 Bedsores
Bedsores at stage 1 are very treatable. Although they usually could have been prevented, hopefully your loved one’s caretakers will have noticed the sores by stage 1 and begin treating them immediately. At stage 1, bedsores can be treated by identifying and eliminating the cause.
Causes of bedsores include:
- Prolonged pressure on a specific area
- Friction on skin
Bedsores are often caused by lack of movement putting pressure on a specific area. A caretaker or nurse can move the patient to relieve pressure on the place where they have developed the sore. Once the pressure is relieved, the sore should heal on its own within a few days.
One simple way that pressure can be relieved on a sore is by propping up that part of the body with a pillow. Sores can also be helped by certain types of bedding or mattresses that put less pressure on the body.
Stage 1 bedsores should also be washed with mild soap and water, then dried. Caretakers should continue to help patients move regularly and monitor their skin to make sure they don’t develop new sores.
Other ways to treat bedsores include improving nutrition, increasing fluid intake and reducing friction when moving.
An estimated 95% of all bedsores are preventable. Sometimes, patients arrive at their nursing home with sores from the hospital. If your loved one arrived at their nursing home without any bedsores, their nurses should be vigilant in preventing them.
Patients at risk of developing bedsores include those who:
- Use a wheelchair
- Spend a lot of time in bed
- Are not receiving proper nutrition
- Have fragile skin
- Are an older adult
- Need help to move
- Are paralyzed
- Have Alzheimers or a similar mental condition
- Have trouble controlling their bladder or bowels
Many elderly people in nursing homes have one or more conditions that keeps them from moving around regularly. Patients at risk should be assisted in constant movement to ensure they are not putting too much pressure on any specific part of their body.
Nursing home attendants should check residents who have reduced mobility for signs of developing bedsores. Patients who are at risk of developing bedsores should receive daily skin assessments. During these assessments a nurse or caretaker will check the patient’s skin from head to toe for warning signs of potential bedsores. Receiving these checks regularly can be helpful.
Warning Signs of Sores from Neglect
Ideally, your loved one will never develop bedsores in their nursing home because they have been prevented. Stage 1 bedsores are easily treated, but the best option is prevention. Those who have a condition that puts them at higher risk of developing bedsores should receive special attention to help prevent these sores.
Nursing homes are meant to be a safe and comfortable place for people who need extra care. When they fail to be attentive or become abusive, legal action is an important option for helping those who were victimized. If you suspect that your loved one has developed bedsores from abuse or neglect at their nursing home, contact us for a free case evaluation.