Quick Answer

Bedsores are staged from 1 to 4, making stage 3 one of the most severe stages. Skin loss has occurred through all layers of skin by stage 3. Stage 3 bedsores should be considered serious and require professional medical attention. At this point, they may take several months to heal. These bedsores are often very painful and should be treated as soon as possible.

Identifying a Stage 3 Bedsore

Stage 3 bedsores have broken through the epidermis (outer layer of skin), dermis (second layer of skin), and into the fat layer below the skin called the subcutaneous tissue.

In stage 1, bedsores have not yet broken the skin. In stage 2, bedsores have broken the skin but have not reached to fat. Stage 3 is less severe than stage 4, in which bone, tendon, ligament, cartilage, and muscle may be visible. If dead tissue obscures the depth of the wound, the bedsore may be considered unstageable.

The depth of a bedsore can vary based on location. Parts of the body that have a thicker layer of fat create the opportunity for deeper bedsores to develop. Deeper wounds will take longer to heal.

Several different types of damaged tissue may be visible in a stage 3 bedsore:

  • Slough. This type of dead tissue is soft and lacks blood vessels. It may or may not be loose. It can appear as white, yellow, gray, green, or tan. Slough never appears in stage 2 or milder bedsores and therefore is an indicator that a bedsore is at least stage 3.
  • Eschar. This type of dead tissue is more severe than slough and is a sign of deep damage to tissue. It appears dark brown or black and is thick and leathery. It looks similar to a scab. The easiest way to differentiate between a scab and eschar is that a scab occurs on top of skin, while eschar occurs inside the wound.
  • Granulation. Another sign that a bedsore has reached stage 3 is granulation. Granulation does not occur in stage 1 or 2. It is a red and irregular surface that sometimes appears puffy or bubbly. This type of tissue replaces dead tissue in the wound as it begins to heal.

Treating Stage 3 Bedsores

Stage 3 bedsores are a serious condition. At this stage, the sore can take at least 1 to 4 months to heal. Stage 1 and 2 bedsores can sometimes be treated simply by reducing pressure on the wound and cleaning it properly until it heals. By the time a bedsore has reached stage 3 it will need attention from a medical professional. Treatments for stage 3 bedsores can sometimes be challenging.

As with all stages of bedsores, the most important step to treatment is to relieve the pressure on the area. After pressure is relieved, more serious treatments can be administered. Special bedding and a pressure-relieving mattress may be necessary at this point. These items are sometimes offered through healthcare providers.

Another change that can help speed healing is proper bandaging, regular cleaning, and keeping the area around the wound dry. Debridement is also helpful. Debridement is the removal of dead or damaged tissue and may need to be done surgically at stage 3.

At stage 3, bedsores can be very painful. Pain management is a crucial part of the treatment plan for these sores.

Even with proper treatment, complications can occur with stage 3 bedsores. When bedsores are caught early and treated immediately they are a minor incident. However, some bedsores can become life-threatening and should be taken seriously. In some cases, amputation may even be necessary.

Infections are a common complication of bedsores. An infected bedsore can often be treated with antibiotics. In serious cases, the infection can spread to the blood, heart, and bones.

Watch out for these warning signs of infection:

  • Redness at the edge of the sore
  • Pus
  • Odor
  • Fever
  • Greenish drainage
  • Black and dead tissue

Preventing Stage 3 Bedsores

Prevention is always the best way to treat a bedsore. If it’s too late to avoid the bedsore completely, it is still important to prevent the sore from getting worse. The deeper a bedsore goes, the longer it will take to heal. Stage 2 sores take several weeks to heal, stage 3 sores take several months to heal, and stage 4 sores can sometimes take years to heal.

The best way to prevent a stage 3 sore is to identify a stage 2 sore and treat it immediately. At stage 2 the sore appears as a blister or open wound and is reddish or discolored. Skin checks should be performed at least once a day, more if possible. These skin checks are especially important for patients at risk of developing severe bedsores.

Patients at risk include those that use a wheelchair regularly, spend a lot of time in bed, have limited mobility, and need assistance to move. People with certain mental conditions, including alzheimer’s and similar diseases are at risk. Paralysis and other physical conditions are also a high-risk factor for severe bedsores.

Stage 3 Bedsores From Nursing Home Neglect

Most bedsores are entirely preventable but not all bedsores are caused by neglect. If your loved one is developing bedsores in a nursing home environment, it is important to investigate whether neglect or nursing abuse is occurring. It is imperative that nursing homes and their employees do the best they can to prevent and treat bedsores while caring for their residents.

Bedores are not only painful and difficult to treat. They may also cause those who develop them to spend more time in bed than they wish to, keeping them from activities or work. Treatment for stage 3 bedsores can be very expensive and take months to heal. During the healing process, bedsore sufferers are also at higher risk of developing respiratory problems or urinary tract infections (UTIs).

All of these side effects can be costly and emotionally draining. You may need to take legal action to be reimbursed and gain closure if you or a loved one developed bedsores caused by nursing home abuse or neglect. Contact us for more information and a free case evaluation.