Stage 1 Bedsores

Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are blisters on the skin caused by continual pressure. Stage 1 bedsores are the least dangerous but can worsen without proper treatment. Sadly, bedsores may be a sign that nursing home abuse or neglect is taking place. Get a free nursing home abuse case review now to see if you may be eligible for compensation.

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What Is a Stage 1 Bedsore?

Bedsores are blisters that form on patches of skin covering bony parts of the body, like the back of the head, knees, shoulder blades, hips, tailbone, heels, and ankles.

Bedsores are categorized into four stages, with a stage 1 bedsore being the earliest and least severe. In this stage, the affected area of skin may be discolored but an open wound has not yet formed.

However, even a stage 1 pressure ulcer should be viewed as serious since it indicates damage beneath the surface of the skin.

Pressure ulcers of all stages usually happen from lying in bed or sitting in a chair for a long period of time. Nursing home residents who are bedbound or have problems moving themselves are at a higher risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Unfortunately, a stage 1 pressure ulcer could be tied to nursing home abuse or neglect. Nursing home staff members should be properly trained to prevent and treat pressure ulcers. When this doesn’t happen, a stage 1 bedsore can quickly worsen into a more severe health problem.

Who Is at Risk for a Stage 1 Pressure Ulcer?

A stage 1 pressure ulcer is likely to form in people who are bedridden, unconscious, or unable to detect pain. This includes people who must use a wheelchair, wear a cast for a long period of time, or suffer from conditions like late-stage dementia.

Since bedsores are most often caused by sitting or lying for a prolonged period of time, nursing home residents are especially at risk for developing stage 1 bedsores. This is because the elderly population is more likely to have trouble moving around and changing positions on their own while sitting or lying in bed.

Additional risk factors for a stage 1 bedsore include:

  • Dehydration
  • Health conditions that affect blood flow, like diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Spinal cord injury or neurological disorders that cause loss of sensation

While a stage 1 pressure ulcer is highly treatable, it can be a red flag directly related to the overall care a resident is receiving. Sadly, a stage 1 bedsore could be one of the first signs of nursing home abuse or neglect.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, you may be able to take legal action to pursue compensation for your health care costs, pain and suffering, and more. Get a free case review right now to see if you qualify.

Causes of a Stage 1 Pressure Sore

Pressure sores are caused by pressure against the skin that restricts blood flow.

Factors that can contribute to a pressure sore stage 1 are:

  • Friction: When skin rubs against clothing or bedding, it can become fragile and more prone to injury. Moist skin is especially vulnerable.
  • Lack of blood flow: Constant pressure on the skin can prevent oxygen and other nutrients from reaching tissue, resulting in a sore.
  • Shear: This happens when the bones or muscle beneath the skin move but the skin itself stays in place or moves in the opposite direction. It could occur when a bed is raised, causing the resident to slide down while the skin over their bones stays in place.

The one underlying factor that causes a stage 1 pressure sore is any medical condition that limits a person’s ability to change positions on their own. Medical conditions that limit movement are often why older adults move into nursing homes in the first place.

If staff members are unable or unwilling to provide proper care to immobile residents, they could develop bedsores as a result, which may be considered nursing home neglect.

Symptoms of Stage 1 Bedsores

If a stage 1 bedsore has developed, the skin in that area will look red and feel warmer or cooler than unaffected skin. If pressure is applied, a stage 1 bedsore will stay red, whereas healthy skin will turn white.

Skin affected by a stage 1 pressure ulcer may also be harder than the surrounding skin, have a bluish tint, or cause pain, burning, or itching.

It is also very important to know where pressure sores are likely to show up, as their location on the body can vary based on the extent of limited mobility. Find out more in the chart below.

Common Areas for Stage 1 Bedsores

Patients Who Are BedriddenPatients in Wheelchairs
Back or sides of the headBacks of arms and legs
Heels, ankles, and behind the kneesButtocks
HipsShoulder blades
Lower back or tailboneSpine
Shoulder bladesTailbone

Prevention of Pressure Ulcers Stage 1

Almost all stage 1 pressure ulcers are preventable, as nursing home staff members are trained to provide care to stop them from ever occurring.

“It is estimated that 95% of all pressure ulcers are preventable. Prevention rather than mere treatment of established ulcers remains a top priority in the effort to reduce the incidence of this common, complex, and difficult problem.”
– National Institutes for Health (NIH)

Proactive staff members can prevent a stage 1 bedsore from developing by carefully monitoring the skin for redness, especially on bony areas. It is also critical to ensure there are no issues with poor hygiene or malnutrition.

Other ways to prevent a stage 1 pressure sore from developing include:

  • Ensuring those in wheelchairs stay upright and change position frequently
  • Keeping the skin clean and dry to maintain proper incontinence care
  • Knowing the signs of infection, tissue damage, tissue injury, and dead tissue
  • Making sure all caregivers are familiar with the stages of bedsores
  • Putting soft cushioning in wheelchairs and beds
  • Repositioning a person who can’t easily move themselves every 2 hours

Weight management is also important in preventing a stage 1 bedsore. For people who are severely obese, losing weight can lessen pressure that can cause bedsores. If a person is underweight, they are more likely to need additional padding around bony areas.

Even small amounts of movement can increase blood flow. It may be possible to safely incorporate low-impact stretching into your loved one’s care plan.

Despite training and other protocols, bedsores remain a big problem in nursing homes and can signal that a loved one isn’t getting proper care.

Contact our team at (888) 726-9160 if you suspect your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse. We can help you figure out your next steps and connect you to a top attorney if you qualify.

Stage 1 Bedsore Treatment

Although stage 1 bedsores are the mildest stage, they can still be painful. Additionally, they are likely to get worse, potentially progressing to a stage 3 bedsore and ultimately a stage 4 bedsore, if they are ignored and left untreated.

Stage 1 bedsores treatment includes:

  • Drinking more fluids
  • Inspecting the affected area at least twice per day
  • Keeping the area clean and dry
  • Removing all pressure
  • Staying off the affected area

A stage 1 pressure sore can usually be reversed in about three days, preventing a stage 2 bedsore from developing, if the proper precautions are taken to remove the pressure that caused it.

However, the danger with a stage 1 bedsore, especially in the elderly population, is that they can worsen in a matter of days or even hours. Tragically, some severe bedsores never heal and can even lead to nursing home wrongful death.

Complications of a Pressure Ulcer Stage 1

Once a stage 1 pressure sore develops, it can quickly advance into a more severe stage and lead to other nursing home injuries.

If a stage 1 bedsore gets infected, fever is likely to occur as the infection travels through the body. The infection can spread to the blood, heart, and bones, turning a once mild bedsore into a life-threatening condition.

Additional bedsore complications include:

  • Amputations
  • Autonomic dysreflexia (dangerously high blood pressure)
  • Prolonged bed rest

Since people with bedsores are less active while they are healing, they may also develop a higher risk for respiratory problems and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Get Help for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

A stage 1 bedsore is easily prevented and treated, but they are often not detected well enough in advance to stop them from worsening. Bedsores should never be taken lightly, as they are often an indicator of ongoing nursing home abuse or neglect.

Nursing homes have a duty to keep residents safe. If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, legal and financial support may be available.

Filing a nursing home abuse legal claim may help you secure the compensation you need to get the best care for your loved one. It can also prevent other vulnerable nursing home residents from being harmed.

The nursing home abuse attorneys in the network have recovered over $267 million for victims across the country.

Our legal partners can help families in all 50 states, and they never charge any upfront fees.

Take the first step toward justice by calling our team at (888) 726-9160 right now or filling out our contact form.

Stage 1 Decubitus Ulcer FAQs

What does a stage 1 pressure sore look like?

A stage 1 pressure sore may look pink or red without any open wound. It may be more difficult for people with darker skin to detect a color change.

When pressure is applied to a stage 1 pressure sore, the injury will stay red instead of turning white like healthy skin would.

How long does it take for a stage 1 bedsore to heal?

A stage 1 bedsore, also known as a pressure ulcer, will usually heal on its own in a few days if the pressure that caused the sore is relieved. Nursing home staff can accomplish this by moving or repositioning the patient, washing the pressure ulcer with mild soap and water, and allowing the skin to dry.

A stage 1 pressure ulcer that is ignored can worsen in severity and lead to severe health consequences. When this happens, it may be considered nursing home abuse or neglect.

If you suspect that a loved one may be experiencing nursing home abuse, contact our team to see if we may be able to help.

How do you treat grade 1 bedsore?

To treat a stage 1 bedsore, caregivers should reposition the patient to reduce the pressure and friction that caused it. Cushions can also be used to help the patient sit or lie in a way that protects the damaged skin.

Next, the sore should be gently washed with soap and water and patted dry to prevent infection and promote healing.

When a stage 1 bedsore is left untreated, it can get worse and cause a variety of health problems, like sepsis (blood infection). Icon

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  1. Findlay D. “Practical management of pressure ulcers.” American family physician, 54(5), 1519–1536. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2023, February 24). “Bedsores (Pressure Injuries).” Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Bedsores.” Retrieved April 17, 2024 from
  4. Mayo Clinic. (2024, February 22). “Bedsores (Pressure Ulcers).” Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
  5. Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center. “Recognizing and Treating Pressure Sores.” Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
  6. Park-Lee, E. & Caffrey, C. “Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents: United States.” NCHS data brief, no 14. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
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