Epidermolysis bullosa is a skin condition that affects people of different age and manifests through severe blistering induced by minor skin injury, friction or exposure to heat.
The severity of epidermolysis bullosa mainly depends on certain mutations which affect the keratin or collagen gene. As a result the skin becomes way too fragile and gets covered with blisters even after minor irritation. These blisters occur due to mechanical trauma which initiates separation between certain skin layers.
Individuals suffering from epidermolysis bullosa are at higher risk for skin cancer and may develop many other complications.
Epidermolysis Bullosa Potential Complications
Complications generally occur in people suffering from more severe form of the disease in whom blisters affect large portions of the skin and tend to repeat frequently.
The first and definitely the most common complication is secondary skin infection. It develops once skin blisters burst. The damaged skin is highly susceptible to contamination with certain microorganisms and infection only aggravates the already existing symptoms and signs of the disease. Some infections are easily brought under control while others, such as staph infection, may further progress into sepsis.
Patients in whom fingers and toes are exposed to recurrent blisters and accompanying scarring may end up with severe deformities such as fusion of fingers/toes and contractures.
Another potential complication of epidermolysis bullosa is malnutrition. This health issue is a consequence of severe blistering in the mouth and esophagus. These lesions prevent one from eating and interfere in swallowing which reduces the amount of food taken on a daily basis. If it lasts long enough, one may lose a lot of weigh and develop many different deficiencies.
In some cases open sores may bleed. If such bleeding lasts for a long period of time, one may become anemic. Anemia may also occur due to inadequate intake of food, especially iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid.
Rarely, repeated inflammation of the conjunctiva and erosions of the cornea may jeopardized one's vision and, in the long run, cause blindness.
One of the most serious problems associated with epidermolysis bullosa is increased risk for skin cancer, to be more precise squamous skin cancer.
Finally, infants suffering from junctional epidermolysis bullosa are prone to infections and easily lose body fluids due to severe skin blistering. They are also highly susceptible to blistering of many internal organs which may interfere in food absorption and sometimes breathing. Lethal outcome in these patients occurs in childhood.
It is essential to take proper care of wounds and provide good nutrition to these patients. Blisters that are not ruptured on time may enlarge and affect huge portions of the skin. Because of that patients are instructed how to drain blisters while these are small.
Prevention of infection is achieved with a gauze containing a moisturizing agent and antibiotic creams. Each time one needs to touch his/her blisters or blisters of a person suffering from this skin condition, he/she is due to wash hands thoroughly.
Finally, the food may be blended and mixed in such a way that one can consume it easily and this way supply the body with all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.