While this population represents the majority of wound care cases, patients requiring treatment for a wound are not restricted by age. Health care professionals will invariably encounter a child with a wound, and even though many of the care principles remain the same, managing wound care in children requires a different approach.
Children are often unreliable or lack appropriate communication skills to effectively report the true extent of an injury, and they may lack the ability to adequately describe the pain. This can lead to under reporting and a higher incidence of undiagnosed wounds. Children also respond differently to wounds and the factors that cause wounds. As an example, infants have more loosely bound skin compared to adults, which make them more prone to develop particular wounds such as skin tears or blisters. In addition, children are more prone to traumatic wounds such as burns, lacerations and abrasions as they have not developed the protective skills learned through the normal process of development.
Children are also more likely to suffer from a negative reaction or side effect to a product. One cause of this is a lack of a medical history of allergies (often learned only through exposure) that helps guide treatment decision making. Part of the reason for this is that children do not have an allergy history so that parents and healthcare professional know which products to avoid. Surprisingly, pressure ulcers are common in infants and toddlers with rates reported as high as 27 percent in some pediatric intensive care units.
Despite the prevalence of pressure ulcers in young acute care patients and the other potential pitfalls, children do have one definite advantage over older patients. They heal at an enhanced rate over adult patients unless compromised by underlying medical conditions, congenital problems or other particular risk factors. Small cuts or scrapes often heal in a short amount of time. Both minor and more significant wounds heal in a much shorter period of time.