Bedsores most frequently occur among elderly patients, although they can happen to any patient that remains in the same sitting or laying positions for extended periods of time. Patients who are immobile are at a significantly increased risked of developing bedsores. Typically, bedsores may be identified and treated at stage 1 or stage 2, so they never progress to become stage 3 bedsores. However, if an elderly patient is neglected by his or her caretaker, or if bedsore treatment is insufficient, then the elder may suffer from a stage 3 bedsore.
What is a Stage 3 Bedsore?
A stage 3 bedsore, or pressure sore, is a bedsore that has been allowed to progress through stage 1 and stage 2 without effective medical care. Stage 3 bedsores are deep ulcers that typically evolve into crater-like abrasions on the elder patient’s skin. Stage 3 bedsores are frequently accompanied by infection and an increased risk of death for the elderly patient.
What Do Stage 3 Bedsores Look Like?
After the skin tears or wears off in stage 2, a stage 3 bedsore presents as dead and yellowish tissue. The outer edges of stage 3 bedsores may appear black or rotten, and the elder patient’s skin is damaged beyond repair. The elder patient’s fat tissues, also known as adipose tissues, are typically visible in stage 3 bedsores. However, there isn’t any tendon, ligament, muscle, or bone visible in a stage 3 bedsore. Stage 3 bedsores will be gruesome in appearance, although they may no longer be painful for the elder patient due to extensive tissue and nerve damage.
Preventing Stage 3 Bedsores
The best method of stage 3 bedsore management involves bedsore prevention, which includes:
- Changing the elder patient’s position every 2 hours
- Using powders, foam padding, sheepskin, special bedding, or other medically-approved items that are developed specifically for bedsore prevention
- Maintained a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water
- Physical therapy, which may encourage mobility and increase range of motion for the elder patient
- Keeping the elder patient, and his or her bedding, clean and dry
- Maintaining good hygiene, especially when bodily excrement is involved
- Identifying, managing, and properly treating stage 1 bedsores or stage 2 bedsores
- Applying creams as directed by a medical professional
Stage 3 Bedsore Treatment
Stage 3 bedsores require the quick response and assistance of a medical professional. A stage 3 bedsore has developed into a full-thickness injury of the skin, and infection is likely to occur. Doctors will need to remove any dead tissue through a process called debridement. Stage 3 bedsore treatment may also involve the use of antibiotics, pain medication, negative pressure therapy, bedsore dressings, and air fluidized therapy.
If an elder patient develops stage 3 bedsores, the caretaker should immediately take the following steps:
- Alleviate pressure on the stage 3 bedsore immediately. Never use ring-shaped or donut-shaped cushions, because they can interrupt blood flow in that area of the patient’s body. Move the elder patient to a new sitting or laying position, and replace the bedding with materials that minimize friction for the patient’s injured skin.
- Ensure that the area around the patient’s stage 3 bedsore is dry. Damp environments, which may develop from unclean sheets, sweat, saliva, urine, or feces, will irritate the elder patient’s skin and promote infection.
- Never massage areas of skin near the patient’s stage 3 bedsore. This could make the patient’s stage 3 bedsore worse, and will likely cause more skin damage.
- Contact a medical professional immediately. Bedsore first aid typically involves cleaning the wound with salt water and applying special bedsore dressing. However, stage 3 bedsores can cause life-threatening conditions. If a stage 3 bedsore is not properly treated by a medical professional, the elderly patient is at risk of death. Stage 3 bedsore treatment requires debridement, or removal of necrotic tissue that could otherwise promote bacterial growth. This may be accomplished with natural or chemical enzymes, rough or debriding dressings, ultrasounds, biological debriding techniques, and surgery. Any infections will need to be treated with prescription medication.
Berman, Kevin. “Pressure Ulcer.” Medline Plus. Atlanta: 2012. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007071.htm>.
Bluestein, Daniel and Ashkan Javaheri. “Pressure Ulcers: Prevention, Evaluation, and Management.” American Academy of Family Physicians. 2008. <http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/1115/p1186.html>.