Bedsores (Escaras) are one of the most dreaded side effects of physical immobility. AKA pressure ulcers, these can be very painful in advanced stages and also very difficult to heal completely.

The development of bedsores is caused by continued pressure on the skin. Immobile individuals and those with decreased sensory perception are more prone to develop bedsores. The skin breaks down due to pressure built up in bony areas, and the skin appears red, which leads to tissue damage.

stage1 of bedsores

Symptoms and Causes of Pressure Sores

Initially, it might be difficult to distinguish or understand what are bedsores. But the most common symptoms include:

  • Localized changes in skin color – The skin of a dark-skinned individual may appear bluish, purple, or shiny. Upon removing the pressure, you may notice a pink or red tint to your skin, or you may see a darkening of your skin. If discoloration occurs within 10-30 minutes after removing the pressure, it may indicate the presence of a wound.
  • Changes to the texture – During this period, there may be a feeling of warmth and hardness around the area.
  • Bruised skin – You may have an open, shallow sore containing pus or fluid. There is a risk that the wound will become infected if it gets deeper.
  • Infection – It is possible to experience changes in color or sensation around the sore’s edge, to suffer from a fever, to develop green or black tissue surrounding the sore, and to experience increased pus production.

Some of the common areas

It is common for sores to develop in areas of the body that are subjected to pressure for prolonged periods. For instance, when you sit for an extended period, you may experience sores in the following areas:

  • Tailbone and buttocks
  • Backbone
  • Blades on the shoulder
  • Arms and legs’ backs

Sores may develop on the following surfaces if someone lies in bed too long:

  • The ankles
  • High heels
  • Shoulders
  • Tailbone
  • Elbows
  • Back of the head
Bedsores (Pressure Ulcers)

Causes

The causes of bedsores tend to vary. Pressure Sores are more likely to develop in individuals who remain in the same position for a prolonged period of time. It is often the case that blisters are formed due to a person’s need for assistance in changing positions.

When a pressure sore develops, a person may experience the following symptoms:

  • Stay in bed or sit in a chair for most of the day
  • Wear a surgical appliance or prosthesis
  • Using elastic clothing or shoes that don’t fit

A distortion of the blood vessels and tissue causes the wounds. As a consequence, poor circulation may result in tissue death and infection. Increasing pressure for a short period can cause sores while decreasing pressure for a lengthy period can also cause them.

Early Stages of Bedsores

The sores usually heal within a few days without much pain or discomfort. If you don’t treat bedsores, they’ll get worse and better when the sore shrinks and pink tissue appears.

Stage 1

It’s the mildest stage, and only the top layer of your skin is affected by pressure sores.

Symptoms

  • A common symptom is aching, stinging, or itchiness. There could also be a difference in feel: sturdier, smoother, warmer, or colder.
  • If you have darker skin, you may not notice the discoloration, and it doesn’t go away no matter what you do or how long you wait. It’s because blood isn’t flowing as much there.

What should you do?

  • First and foremost, you must stop the pressure. Use a foam pad, pillow, or mattress to change your position.
  • You should move every two hours if you’re in bed. You should move every 15 minutes when you’re sitting. You can ask someone for help.
  • Soak the sore in mild soapy water and gently dry it.
  • Your skin might look healthier if you consume a lot of protein, vitamins A and C, and minerals iron and zinc. Make sure you also drink plenty of water.

Time to recover

Typically, Stage 1 Pressure sores heal within two to three days. If not, call your doctor.

Stage 2

This happens when the sore pokes deeper below the surface of the skin.

Symptoms

  • The skin on your body is broken, has an open wound, or appears puss-filled.
  • There may be fluid or pus oozing from the sore, as well as swelling and pain.

What should you do?

  • It’s the same thing as step 1. Clean and dry the wound with salt water or water. If you’re in pain, your doctor might recommend taking a pain reliever.
  • Over the sore, put on a thick dressing or thick gauze. Get your doctor involved if there is any sign of infection (like pus, fever, or redness).

Time to recover

A Stage 2 pressure sore takes around 3 weeks to heal.

Late Stages: When to See Doctor?

Stage 3

Under the second layer of skin, the sores have penetrated the fat tissue.

Symptoms

Crater-like sores may smell nasty. There may be red edges, pus, odor, heat, or drainage if it’s infected. Dead sores are surrounded by black tissue.

What should you do?

Stage 3 sores need expert medical attention. Talk to your doctor. They may remove dead tissue and prescribe antibiotics. Your insurance might cover a special bed.

Recovery time

Stage 3 Pressure sores are more difficult to heal completely. They usually heal within a month to four months.

Stage 4

This is a highly advanced stage of bedsores, where they can spread to the muscles and ligaments as well. Stage 4 pressure ulcers are of the most serious kind and need expert medical guidance.

Symptoms

There’s a deep and large sore. There’s blackened skin, pus, odor, heat, and/or drainage. You can see bones, tendons, and muscles.

What should you do?

If this happens, tell your doctor. You might need surgery.

Recovery time

It may take 3 months, or it may take years, for a Stage 4 pressure sore to heal.

Treatment For Bed Sores

You can prevent new sores from forming by changing positions frequently during the healing process. When sores are in the early stages, people can treat bedsores at home. If the ulcer is severe, you should see a doctor. The severity of the sore may require other measures. There are, however, some general strategies that can help:

  • Get rid of the stress – Changing your body position might involve propping up the affected areas with foam pads or pillows.
  • Get it cleaned up – You can gently wash minor sores with mild soap and water. Make sure you clean your open sores with saline every time you change your dressing.
  • Put dressings on – Boosts healing and protects wounds. You can get antimicrobial or hydrocolloid options or ones with alginic acid. You can order dressings online.
  • Apply topical creams – A barrier cream protects damaged or vulnerable skin from infections, while antibacterial creams treat infections.
  • Conceal incontinence – Cleaning agents, barrier creams, absorbent pads, and fecal management systems are all part of the cleaning process. They’re available online.
  • Get dead tissue out – It may help heal a sore. Doctors use surgical instruments and high-pressure water jets.
  • Check out the bedding – A foam mattress or a dynamic mattress can help relieve pressure. Additionally, some beds come with a pump that keeps the air flowing. A doctor can recommend the right type. Special mattresses can be bought online.
  • Antibiotics as needed – Antibiotics prescribed by doctors can help treat skin, bone, and blood infections.
  • Diet adjustment – Although no specific diet has been shown to treat pressure sores, protein supplements may boost healing and reduce wound size. Drinking enough water and eating enough nutrients are critical for your health.
  • Options for surgery – A procedure may involve removing dead tissue, cleaning the wound, and closing the edges as much as possible. Healthy skin tissue can be used for repairs.

How to prevent bedsores?

Experienced healthcare professionals can help you reduce the risk of pressure ulcers even though you can’t completely prevent them.

If nerve damage occurs in patients with diabetes or those who have suffered trauma, they are also more likely to develop bedsores.

However, it is possible to prevent bedsores by changing your position frequently, sleeping on a mattress that relieves pressure, eating a nutritious diet, and adopting measures like:

  • Continually changing positions
  • If you are not able to change position on your own, a relative or caregiver should assist you.
  • A physician or nurse will check your skin daily for early signs and symptoms of pressure ulcers if you are in a hospital or nursing home.
  • Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet that contains adequate amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals is critical. Your doctor should refer you to a dietitian if you have concerns about your diet or are responsible for caring for someone who may have a poor diet.
  • It is more likely that you will develop pressure ulcers if you smoke, as smoking damages the blood circulation in your body.
  • There is a risk of developing pressure ulcers in hospitals and nursing homes, and Healthcare professionals should be aware of this risk. It is critical to assess the risks, monitor the skin, and take preventative measures, such as regular repositioning.

It is essential to inform your healthcare professional quickly if you believe you may be at risk of developing pressure ulcers during recovery from an illness or surgery or if you are caring for a person who uses a wheelchair.

Summary

Pressure ulcers occur when the blood circulation is cut off to a particular body area due to sustained or excessive pressure. They are most often found on bony prominences and in elderly patients. You can prevent bedsores by keeping pressure off the areas most likely to get them, applying dressings to skin breakdowns, and using topical antibiotics. Doctors have determined that pressure ulcer severity depends on the stage of the disease. Pressure ulcers in stage 2 are defined as wounds extending below the skin’s surface.

Individuals concerned that they may be at risk of developing pressure ulcers should consult a healthcare professional. Pressure ulcers are usually round, crater-like sores or large blisters filled with liquid. It doesn’t matter what stage it is, anyone suffering from a pressure ulcer should seek a formal diagnosis as soon as possible to prevent future complications. Changing positions frequently, refraining from smoking, and remaining active can also prevent bedsores.

So, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately if associated symptoms like fever, chills, or yellowish, oozing skin appear.

Disclaimer: Content provided on this website is for information purposes only, and should not be treated as professional medical advice. In case of any health concerns, you should get in touch with a registered medical practitioner.