Bedsores: Why you need to move your patient

People with a medical condition that limits their ability to change positions or those who spend most of their time in a bed or chair are at risk of bedsores.

They include the elderly who have mobility problems and have skin that’s more easily damaged through dehydration and other factors, people with paralysis, anyone confined to bed with illness or after surgery, people with medical conditions that affect blood supply, obese people etc.

Bedsores, also referred to as pressure ulcers are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin.

They most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone. They happen when you lie or sit in one position too long and the weight of your body against the surface of the bed or chair cuts off blood supply.

Early symptoms of bedsores

  • part of the skin becoming discoloured – people with pale skin tend to get red patches, while people with dark skin tend to get purple or blue patches
  • a patch of skin that feels warm, spongy or hard
  • pain or itchiness in the affected area

Stages of bedsores

The stages are based on how deep the sores are, which can affect their treatment.

Stage 1

This is the mildest stage. These pressure sores only affect the upper layer of your skin

Stage 2

This happens when the sore digs deeper below the surface of your skin. At this stage, your skin is broken, leading to a painful open wound, or looks like a pus-filled blister.

Stage 3

These sores have gone through the second layer of skin into the fat tissue. The sore may have deepened and may have a bad oduor. It may show signs of infection – red edges, pus, oduor, heat, and/or drainage.

The tissue in or around the sore may be black if it has died.

Stage 4

This is the most serious stage as the sores have deepened and become bigger. Your skin may have turned black and showing signs of infection –  red edges, pus, oduor, heat, and/or drainage.

You may be able to see tendons, muscles, and bone.


Bedsores may take a few days, several months, or they may never heal, especially in people with ongoing health problems.


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