An Overview of a Stage 1 Decubitus Ulcer

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What is a Stage 1 Decubitus Ulcer?

A stage 1 decubitus ulcer is one of four stages that are categorized by the basis of how severe the ulcer is. The stages have been defined by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, a professional association that is devoted to the avoidance and healing of pressure sores.

A decubitus ulcer is more commonly called a pressure ulcer. The decubitus ulcer occurs in an area of skin and tissue that is damaged when a person does not shift their weight very often and stays in one place for too long. A decubitus ulcer begins in an area, usually over bones close to the skin, where the skin starts out being red but then gets increasingly worse. The areas where this ulcer might show up are the shoulders, back, hips, heels, elbow, ankles and the back of the head. The area of skin then develops a blister, followed by an open sore and finally a large depression.

Why do Decubitus Ulcers Occur?

Individuals can have a stage 1 decubitus ulcer occur when they sit or lay in one position for too long, thereby placing pressure on a specific location on the body. These ulcers are common among people that are paralyzed, bedridden or have to use a wheelchair, even for just a short time.

This pressure can decrease the supply of blood to the tissues under the skin and the skin itself and then the tissue dies. If a person does not change position often enough and the supply of blood becomes extremely low, a sore may develop.

Symptoms of a Stage 1 Decubitus Ulcer

When a person has a stage 1 decubitus ulcer, there are certain symptoms that show up compared to the other stages of ulcers. The area of skin that is affected appears red, may be spongy or firm and may feel warm if you touch it. The skin may hurt, itch or burn. In people who are dark-skinned, the decubitus ulcer may have a purple or blue hue to it or appear pale or flaky. Stage 1 ulcers are mainly on the surface and should go away within weeks after the pressure is alleviated.

Treatment of a Stage 1 Decubitus Ulcer

The first treatment for the decubitus ulcer is to relieve the pressure that caused the ulcer in the first place. Use pillows or pads so that there is not any pressure on the ulcer. The ulcer needs to be kept clean and dead tissue removed in order for it to heal. You can use mild soap and water to clean the ulcer. Usually stage 1 decubitus ulcers do not need to be covered with a dressing. If the ulcer becomes infected, the doctor can order antibiotics or antibiotic ointment.

References

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009, March 31). Bedsores (pressure sores). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from MayoClinic.com: https://www.mayoclinic.com/print/bedsores/DS00570/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print

Pressure Sores. (2009, December). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from FamilyDoctor.org: https://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/seniors/endoflife/039.printerview.html

Pressure Ulcer. (2010, November 15). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from National Institutes of Health: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007071.htm