When skin is exposed to prolonged pressure, bed sores can develop. Bed sores are most likely to develop in bony areas, like the hips, heels, coccyx, and shoulder blades, but they can develop on the toes when blankets are too tight, on the back of the head, or in other areas. Those who are unable to reposition themselves are at great risk of developing bed sores. Also called pressure ulcers, bed sores are classified by stage.
Stage 1: A sore is forming
In stage 1, the skin is still intact. The signs of breakdown at this stage include a darkened or reddened area of skin (in an area exposed to ongoing pressure, like the heel of the foot or near the coccyx bone), tenderness to the touch, and warmth. When bed sores are identified while in stage 1, steps can be taken to prevent skin breakdown, infection, and other serious complications.
Stage 2: When the skin breaks open
Open skin indicates the ulcer has moved into stage 2. In stage 2, the skin can blister and then the outermost layer opens up and deeper layers of skin are affected. Stage 2 pressure sores can cause extensive tissue damage or death of tissue if left untreated.
Stage 3: Damage extends beyond skin
Once the open wound has reached the tissue beneath the skin, the sore has advanced to stage 3. Stage 3 bed sores are incredibly painful and much more difficult to treat. Avoiding any pressure in that area, keeping the wound clean, and promoting healing through appropriate treatment, hydration, and nutrition are critical at this stage.
Stage 4: Bone and muscle involvement
A stage 4 bed sore has reached muscle and bone and may have damaged both beyond repair. Stage 4 pressure ulcers often require hospitalization, IV antibiotics, and other serious interventions to treat.
In some cases, staging an ulcer can be difficult. For example, sometimes the infection makes it challenging to visualize and stage the sore, while in other cases, the damage is greater beneath the skin than it is on the surface.
The single most effective way to prevent bed sores is to ensure your immobile loved one is being cared for by competent, compassionate family members or caregivers who reposition them often and closely monitor their skin for changes. To learn more, visit the experts at Santé today.