Bed sores (also called pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers) can develop into severe wounds that can be fatal.  Wounds can at times be so large that bones become exposed inviting infection.  It is not uncommon for a family member not to see the bed sore until it is serious.

While most people have heard the term bed sore before, very few have actual experience with them.  They are fortunate.  One person recently told me they thought a bed sore was akin to a bad rash, until she first saw one on her mom and almost passed out. 

A bed sore forms when a person is not moved.  Areas with constant pressure on the underlying tissue such as the tail bone (also called the sacral area), elbows, heels and head, and areas where there is a brace, prevent blood flow that can kill tissue.  This causes a bed sore.

Bed sores are categorized by Stages.  Basically they are 5 stages of bed sores or pressure ulcers:

Stage I – No skin breakage.  May look like a red rash.  
Stage II  – Superficial skin breakage.
Stage III  – Open skin wound.  Can see blood but no muscle or bone.
Stage IV  – Open skin wound.  Can see muscle or bone.
Unstageable  – Because of dead tissue covering the wound, these wounds cannot be staged.  Generally presumed to be a stage IV.


For more detailed descriptions, you can go to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel’s website.

The good news about bed sores is that they are both preventable and treatable.  With good prevention measures and early intervention bed sores can be avoided or can heal.  Even people who suffer from large bed sores may heal with the right care.  Treatments vary for the different stages, so its important to understand the different stages when taking part in a care conference or talking to a doctor.  Armed with the proper facts, a person can become a better advocate for a loved one.