Free Consultation · Call 24/7

What Do Bedsores Look Like?

Bedsores can be problematic for nursing home residents and long-term residential care patients. According to one study, more than 1.3 million adults worldwide are afflicted by these painful wounds annually.

The effects of bedsores can be severe and long-lasting, so it’s best to know what to look for to ensure your loved one gets adequate care.

Quick Links

What are bedsores?

Bedsores are also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores. They develop due to pressure exerted on certain points of the body for prolonged periods of time , limiting the blood flow to the skin. Friction and shear can also result in the formation of bedsores, especially in older adults with more vulnerable skin.

Bedsores are usually seen in bony regions, such as the elbows, heels, hips, shoulders, back, and the back of the head. These sores don’t just result in injury to the skin but can also penetrate the underlying tissues, causing additional complications and health concerns.

If left untreated, bedsores can advance to later stages, potentially leading to cellulitis (a serious infection of the skin), bone and joint infections, cancer, and, in some cases , sepsis. These medical conditions can be severe and even life-threatening.

What should you watch out for when trying to spot bedsores?

Bedsores look different depending on the staging. In the early stages of development, it can appear as a persistent area of skin discoloration that does not disappear when pressure is relieved. Nursing home staff have an obligation to adequately care for residents, including knowing how to spot bedsores and preventing them before they start to form. Additionally, if bedsores surface, they should be treated appropriately and promptly to avoid further harm.

While it’s never your direct responsibility to check yourself or your loved ones for bedsores in healthcare facilities, if you notice anything that doesn’t seem right, be sure to alert the staff so that they can intervene. If a serious injury occurs, you should contact a nursing home attorney.

Stage One Bedsores

During stage one, bedsores appear on the skin’s surface as a persistent redness. Darker-skinned individuals may have a blue or purple tint where the bedsore forms. This discoloration doesn’t fade after repositioning or relieving pressure on the impacted spot. The skin has not yet broken, but damage is already occurring.

Additionally, the affected area may feel warm, and pain, burning, or itching might be evident.

Stage Two Bedsores

In stage two, part of the skin’s thickness is lost, and the markedly red area might begin to rupture, appearing as an abrasion, blister, or shallow crater. At this stage, damage is apparent, and pain is likely significant. The skin surrounding the sore will retain its discoloration.

The now open wound is also at risk of infection. If an infection occurs, it can lead to noticeable swelling and drainage from the site. Drainage can be greenish in color and might emit a foul odor. You might also see increased redness and possible blackening of the wound. Additionally, the patient might seem feverish and lethargic.

Stage Three Bedsores

Full skin thickness is lost at stage three development of bedsores. The subcutaneous tissues, including muscle and fat and extending under the epidermal and dermal skin layers, are exposed in this stage. The wound now appears as a deep crater with damage exceeding what is readily seen on the wound’s surface.

Any surrounding skin and tissues inside the wound might present as yellow as the fat cells are noticeable, and the skin and tissues begin to die. At this stage, it’s evident that proper care isn’t being administered to the patient.

Stage Four Bedsores

The skin’s full thickness and subcutaneous tissues are lost at this stage, leading to exposed muscle or bone. In stage four bedsores, the wound is large, and the damage is extensive. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints can be affected, and harm can be permanent.

The wound will appear black in color, with rotting and crusting tissues surrounding the site or covering the impacted area. Infection and other health complications are significant concerns at this stage.

Are bedsores preventable?

Bedsores are entirely preventable with proper care. Each resident should be assessed for risk of pressure sores and nursing home staff should implement a proper care plan to prevent injury. Adherence to certain preventative measures should lessen or eliminate occurrences of bedsores and their severity. These standard of care practices may include:

  • Checking residents’ skin daily for areas of redness, especially if the resident is immobile, has recent incontinence, or experienced recent weight loss, concentrating primarily on bony regions
  • Providing residents with adequate skincare and hygiene
  • Ensuring proper nutrition and hydration for residents, especially after a bedsore has formed to promote healing
  • Turning and repositioning immobile residents every two hours
  • Changing residents’ positioning in wheelchairs every 15 minutes to ensure they’re upright
  • Reducing pressure to certain areas of the skin with soft padding on wheelchairs and beds

Additionally, if bedsores surface, the patient or resident should receive immediate medical treatment to address the problem before the wound advances to later stages. Despite the need for urgent medical care to mitigate the harm from bedsores, the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey found that only 35% of nursing home residents with stage 2 or higher bedsores received special wound care services or treatment in accordance with clinical practice guidelines per the CDC.

Who’s most at risk of developing bedsores?

In general, common risk factors of bedsores in nursing home residents include:

  • Immobility
  • Incontinence
  • Lack of sensory perception (i.e., those with spinal cord injuries or neurological disorders)
  • Poor nutrition and hydration
  • Health problems affecting adequate blood flow (e.g., diabetes or vascular disease)

Why should you hire the nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti to help?

The attorneys at Levin & Perconti strive to exceed our clients’ expectations. We want to deliver top results for you and your family after having to endure the devastating and preventable impacts of bedsores and other harms caused by nursing home abuse and neglect. We’ve recovered over a billion dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients because we believe in holding people accountable for the harm they needlessly inflict on others through negligence and abuse. .

We have numerous record verdicts, including setting the top three jury verdict records under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. We recovered $4.1 million on behalf of our client, surpassing the previous record set by our firm of $3 million. We hold several record Illinois verdicts for nursing home cases involving bedsores, falls, and choking incidents.

Over our 30 years of operation, our experience is unmatched. We have an extensive network of experts, the respect of our adversaries, and a databank of information about federal and state nursing home laws and practical approaches to nursing home cases.. We never settle for less than fair compensation, and we aren’t afraid to take cases to trial.

If you or your loved one suffered harm from bedsores due to nursing home neglect, we can help. Contact Levin & Perconti today for a free case evaluation to determine if you’re eligible for compensation.

$1.4 million


against a facility located in the northern suburbs for a former nursing home resident who sustained injuries as a result of a pressure sore.

$2.8 million


record nursing home pressure sore settlement against a suburban Hillside nursing home and physician for a 59-year-old resident who developed multiple painful and infected bedsores which took four years to heal

$2.3 million


for the family of an 88-year-old assisted living facility resident who developed severe and infected bed sores which ultimately brought about her death. Her doctor was criminally indicted for his conduct and charged with involuntary homicide