Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, occur when the skin and the underlying tissue are damaged by prolonged pressure. They are areas of localized damage, typically occurring when there is constant pressure on that area of the body. For example, when a patient is confined to a bed for long periods of time. These wounds can lead to considerable distress for the patient, significantly reducing their quality of life.
They are more common in elderly people, but younger patients can also get affected. It is a serious condition that can quickly become severe and cause permanent damage if not treated properly. Taking measures to address bedsores is important. Especially in young patients because they may not have the same threshold for pain or be able to communicate their discomfort as easily as an older adult.
Being aware of the risks related with bed sores can help you prevent and treat the condition. In this article, we will discuss why younger patients get bedsores and the potential complications associated with them. It also provides helpful preventative measures and treatment options that you can implement to reduce the risk and severity of such injuries.
Risk Factors for Bed Sores in Younger Patients
Elderly people are more at risk of bedsores because their ability to change positions is more limited. The young ones can also can develop these pressure wounds due to various reasons including the following:
While younger people are typically quite active, they can become confined to bed due to limited mobility brought about by an injury, physical disabilities, or conditions such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. These can limit their range of motion, increasing the risk of bedsores despite being young.
Immobility is one major risk factor for developing bedsores in younger patients. These wounds are caused by prolonged pressure in the bony regions of the body. Being constantly pressed against the hard bones can cause injury to the skin and underlying tissues.
A poor diet can weaken skin’s ability to heal itself. When patients have nutritional deficiencies, their bodies do not get enough energy or healthy tissues to fight off infection and trauma properly. This makes them prone to pressure ulcer formation.
A lack of essential vitamins and minerals in diet can significantly increase the risk for developing bed sores in younger patients. So, it is important to make sure that they are consuming a balanced diet containing the essential nutrients.
Certain medical conditions can weaken immunity, making it easier for bed sores to develop. When prolonged pressure is applied, it can cut off blood circulation, making the skin more vulnerable.
Diseases that can cause inflammation, such as diabetes or arthritis, may also weaken the tissues, preventing them from healing properly. Certain medications that patients take can also make them prone to skin breakdowns.
Incontinence refers to having difficulty controlling urination or defecation. When a patient suffers from this condition, it can make it harder for them to stay properly dry. Prolonged wetness increases the chances of developing a skin infection or irritation. And without proper care, it can also contribute towards development of bedsores in younger patients.
Complications of Bed Sores in Younger Patients
Bed sores are not only uncomfortable, they can also cause further health-related complications if not properly addressed. Here is what can happen:
Bedsores may take longer than average to heal due to weakened immunity or inefficient healing processes, leading to further discomfort and distress. If a bedsore is left untreated, it can delay skin’s natural healing process. Under continuous pressure, the skin and underlying tissue become more damaged. So, even after the wound appears treated, it could take weeks or even months until it heals completely. This is because the new tissue growth is hindered by prolonged exposure to pressure. This holds true for certain groups, such as those with diabetes or heart failure, because their immunity is already compromised, leading to a slow healing process.
Increased Risk for Infection
A weakened immune system,either due to nutritional deficiencies or pre-existing medical conditions, also puts younger patients at an increased risk for infections. Any bacteria or viruses that invade their body through breaks in the skin barrier, can easily cause infection as the patient’s ability to fight them off is already reduced. Not treating these wounds can lead to potentially severe health complications, such as cellulitis (infection of the deeper layers of skin).
Skin and Tissue Damage
Continued pressure on the wound site over a period of time may lead to permanent skin and tissue damage. This can result in irreversible deformity or disfigurement that significantly lowers the quality of life. No matter how well they are treated afterwards, there could still be lasting consequences because those tissues had already been damaged before the treatment began.
Preventing Bed Sores in Younger Patients
Since bed sores are a major source of pain and discomfort, it is best that you try to avoid them from developing in the first place. Prevention is better than the cure and here are some preventive measures you can take to keep bed sores at bay:
One way to protect a patient from bed sores is to regularly reposition the patient throughout the day. It helps minimize pressure on their body. Especially in areas where bony prominences are located, such as elbows, heels and hips. Continuous pressure on any one area of the body can lead to bed sores. Repositioning helps lift that pressure, so you can ensure that your patient remains healthy and comfortable. Besides repositioning, putting additional cushions between the areas susceptible to injury also reduces the probability of bedsores.
A balanced diet is essential for proper healing. Maintaining a healthy diet containing all the essential vitamins and minerals is also helpful in preventing pressure ulcers. They help keep immune systems strong so that minor injuries like skin irritations don’t become more serious issues like bedsores.
Eating foods high in nutrients like nuts, fish, legumes, eggs, fruits, and vegetables helps strengthen the skin’s natural defense mechanisms against developing bedsores. They also help promote better wound healing should an injury or inflammation occur.
Healthy skin is more resistant to bed sore formation, so proper skin care is essential if you want to avoid pressure ulcers. Regularly check for redness or irritation as they are the first signs of bedsore development. You can keep them at bay by keeping contact areas clean and moisturizing regularly. It helps maintain the skin’s elasticity, so excessive pressures do not cause injury should they occur.
Products like petroleum jelly can help reduce risks even further by protecting sensitive areas against irritants like urine or feces. They contain bacteria that could worsen already existing wounds, resulting in increased discomfort and longer healing time.
Managing incontinence is another way caregivers can help prevent bedsore formation in patients. Make sure to remove any wetness quickly following any accidents, so bacteria does not have a chance to build up on the already sensitive skin.
You can use various incontinence aids like diapers, catheters, absorbent pants, etc. to keep those areas dryer. Maintaining proper hygiene with incontinence aids can help reduce any discomfort while providing extra protection for the skin.
Treatment Options for Bed Sores in Younger Patients
Younger people have more options than the elderly when it comes to treatment options for bed sores. Besides proper wound care, youngsters can also take pain management meds or antibiotics to better manage their condition. These are not always an option for older patients because their age and medical history restricts intake of certain medications.
The intensity of wound care depends on the severity of bedsores. Most mild cases end up healing themselves with proper hygiene maintenance. Severe cases require medical attention, preferably from experienced trained professionals who are aware of proper wound care techniques.
Proper wound care includes keeping wounds clean, properly dressed, gently massaging scar tissue and looking out for signs of infection. Besides facilitating the healing process, wound care enables you to keep a close eye on the wound so appropriate action can be taken quickly to prevent potential damages.
Pain management should also be included into treatment plans especially when dealing with severe cases. Depending on the nature of the wound site and its effects on the surrounding tissue, certain drugs may be prescribed for pain management.
If an infection advances quickly, it can put strain on the entire nervous system. Since this type of pain often comes hand in hand with difficulty to function, a doctor or nurse may prescribe medications specifically for this condition. Taking them will reduce discomfort and make it easier to function.
Antibiotics may also be administered in cases where infections have gotten serious. The healthcare provider may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to manage infection
Antibiotic ointments help reduce inflammation and fight off any bacterial infections that could worsen the existing wounds. Oral antibiotics, on the other hand, strengthen your immune system to fight off infection-causing microorganisms.
Psychological Impact of Bed Sores in Younger Patients
Young patients, especially those under the age of 20, often find bedsores distressing and challenging to deal with. Not only do they have to cope with the physical effects of having a wound on their body, they also have to grapple with psychological issues which can significantly reduce their quality of life.
Young patients who experience bedsores often feel embarrassed about their condition. They may become depressed due to their inability to move freely or fully participate in activities like their peers.
This emotional distress can manifest itself in various ways, such as feeling worthless or guilty about not being able to perform at their previous level of activity. It is particularly difficult for younger patients who are accustomed to a high level of physical activity.
The physical symptoms associated with bed sores could lead younger patients to avoid human contact out of fear over other people’s reactions towards them. This isolation and resulting loneliness may lead to further emotional distress and exacerbate the impact bedsores have on the patient’s life. Social interaction is vital for young individuals’ physical and psychological development so avoiding it can have long-term negative effects.
Impact on the Quality of Life
Younger patients experiencing bed sores may feel as if they are unable to enjoy life like they used to do before the sore developed. This sense of diminished quality of life can take its toll on mental wellbeing in addition to causing physical pain from the sore itself.
It is clear that bed sores pose significant difficulties for younger patients beyond just physical discomfort. Therefore, preventative measures, such as elevated support mattresses or other pressure relieving devices, should be taken whenever possible in order to minimize the development of bedsores.
If a bedsore does develop, getting timely medical attention is paramount to minimize any negative impacts that could arise over time. Ultimately, it is essential that young patients receive both appropriate prevention measures as well as proper treatment in order to maintain their psychological wellbeing and quality of life moving forward.