Bedsores are painful medical conditions that arise from failure to turn or adjust incapacitated patients. Over time, these conditions can progress through several stages with a range of complications. Stage 1 bedsores are the mildest, but they can quickly lead to other stages without appropriate intervention and treatment. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and treatment for stage 1 bedsores is an essential part of preventing the condition from progressing to a more serious affliction. If you or a loved one has developed Stage 1 bedsores at the hands of a negligent caregiver, speak with a West Virginia nursing home abuse attorney to learn your legal options.
Symptoms of Stage 1 Bedsores
A stage 1 bedsore has yet to break the surface of the skin. However, they are readily identifiable by their unique appearance and the presence of risk factors in the population that is most vulnerable to them.
Generally, stage 1 bedsores present as red or discolored spots in an area of skin that’s under constant pressure from immobility. They may be harder or softer to the touch than the surrounding areas. It may also feel warmer to the touch. In people with darker skin tones, the skin may not appear red; it may look more purple or experience another form of discoloration.
Caregivers and loved ones can perform a simple test to see if a spot on an immobilized person’s skin is in fact a bed sore: press down on the affected area and wait to see how the skin reacts. Skin that has normal blood flow to the area will briefly turn white, a process called blanching, then return to the previous color. A bedsore will not blanch and may remain red.
Where Do Stage 1 Bedsores Occur?
A bedsore will usually occur in places that do not have a large amount of muscle or fat. This is because underlying tissue structures generally provide better protection from the pressure of bones and the surface of the bed. Some of the most common places that bedsores can develop include:
- The lower back and tailbone
- The back of the head
Bedsores are also more likely to occur in frail patients and those that experience muscle wasting as a consequence of their immobility. Stage 1 ulcers are the mildest of the bedsores, but they still lead to extreme discomfort in the patient. At this stage, the most common symptoms are pain and itching. Proper intervention at this stage is essential, as caregivers and nursing home staff can help prevent discomfort and the risk of further complications.
Treatment for Stage 1 Bedsores
Thankfully, at this stage, pressure ulcers are simple to treat. Caregivers should recognize the signs and symptoms of this condition and intervene as soon as possible. Treatment of bedsores begins with identifying the root cause and risk factors that created the situation in the first place. In a nursing home setting, some of the most common reasons for bedsores include:
- Prolonged pressure from lack of turning
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Friction on the affected area of the skin
By addressing these risk factors, the bedsore is less likely to progress into the advanced stages. Caretakers, for example, can move the patient more frequently to relieve pressure on the area where the bedsore developed. Once this occurs, the sore may resolve on its own within the week.
In the meantime, caretakers should be on the lookout for any potential progression of the wound or signs of accompanying infection. Washing with mild soap and water and drying thoroughly can help keep infection from presenting.
Bedsores may also result from malnutrition and dehydration, so some patients benefit from increased fluid intake, either orally or intravenously. If a patient does not eat much, supplementation with intravenous nutrition may also be necessary. Lastly, caretakers should do their best to minimize the amount of friction that occurs during movement. Together, these actions can help treat and prevent the occurrence of new bedsores.