Pressure ulcers are uncomfortable wounds that are commonly associated with the elderly and infirm, but it is important to know that they can affect anyone under certain conditions. Understanding how they develop as well as their main risk factors helps determine who is most vulnerable to them. This is key to pressure ulcer treatment, arming health care professionals and patients alike with the knowledge needed to prevent development and degradation of pressure-related wounds.
This article will take a brief look at some of the groups who are most at risk of developing pressure ulcers. Please remember that this list is by no means exhaustive, and that you should always refer to your family physician or general practitioner (GP) before making changes regarding your health and wellbeing.
Conditions Leading to Pressure Ulcer Development
Before we talk about who is at risk of developing pressure ulcers, it is worth briefly outlining the conditions that contribute to their development.
Pressure ulcers, commonly referred to as bed sores, are injuries that typically affect the soft tissue around bony parts of the body. The base of the spine, heels, sacrum, shoulder blades, for instance, are particularly susceptible to the condition. They occur due to a combination of friction and pressure which most commonly impact those who sit or lie down for extended periods.
Learn More: What is a Pressure Ulcer?
With that in mind, let’s consider why some groups are more prone to pressure ulcers than others.
The elderly are the worst affected by pressure ulcers for several reasons. These are mainly related to mobility, though frailty is a contributor that should not be overlooked. As we grow older, we begin to lose protective fat and muscle mass which thins the soft tissues between skin and bone.
Though technically incorrect, pressure ulcers are used synonymously with bed sores for a reason. They often affect people who are confined to bed for long periods whether through illness, paralysis, or recovering from surgery.
People with Vascular Conditions
People with cardiovascular conditions such as diabetes or vascular dementia typically suffer from poor blood supply which can cause fragility of the skin. Not only that, poor blood flow can exacerbate mobility issues which further increases the risk of pressure ulcer development.
Overweight and Underweight People
The role of obesity in pressure ulcer development has been debated for some time. There is certainly a correlation, but it often suggested that the higher rate of pressure sores in overweight individuals comes down to a combination of the above factors: poor vascular health, greater degrees of immobility, and so on. Yet, studies have shown comparable rates of pressure ulcer development in ICU patients who were both under- and overweight.
Parafricta is the pioneering developer of low-friction and low-shear products designed to ease the discomfort of people suffering with pressure ulcers, regardless of their demographic. Our solutions are designed to not only combat factors contributing to pressure ulcer development, but to offer a range of quality of life benefits too.