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Pressure sores: The stages to watch for

Pressure sores, which are also known as bed sores, develop quickly and have the potential to lead to serious infections and death. These sores, which could develop into open, seeping wounds, occur when a person sits or lays in one position without moving for too long in most cases. Other times, the sores develop when the skin rubs against the bone or is pulled.

There are four stages of pressure sores. It's best to catch a pressure sore at its earliest stage, so it's a much easier recovery. If you catch it later on, there is a higher risk of infection.

Stage 1: Skin damage

In the first stage, the primary concern is that the pressure sore has affected the upper layer of skin. There are some common symptoms of this including a spot feeling warmer or cooler, burning, itching and pain. The skin may feel harder or softer than other areas of the body, indicating that it has been injured.

Stage 2: Deeper damage

When the sore develops deeper in the skin layers, it's a stage 2 bed sore. At this stage, you can see the skin breaks and has an open wound. It may look like a blister, which is similar to a bed sore.

Stage 3: Dangerously deep

At stage 3, the pressure sore has extended into the fat tissues, so they look deep like craters. The tissues inside the sore may be black in color from dying due to necrosis. There is likely to be at least one sign of infection including heat, odor and drainage.

Stage 4: Whole body involvement

At stage 4, the sores are so serious that they need true medical intervention. The skin around the sore will be black with infection, and the sore itself presents with drainage, heat, pus and a deep, open wound. The wound will be deep enough to expose muscles, bones and tendons, making it extremely likely to develop a life-threatening infection without treatment. Pain is common, and it could take many months to recover after receiving treatment.

Stage four is the most serious and potentially life-threatening. Anyone who develops a sore to this level needs immediate help.

Pressure sores generally develop in the elderly due to a lack of movement. At a nursing home or other care facility, the staff should be monitoring the elderly for bedsores and keep them mobile enough not to have the sores develop. If they do, it could be a sign of neglect.

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