As we age, our epidermis undergoes several changes. And, it depends on a few significant aspects including heredity, diet, as well as other personal habits like smoking, alcohol consumption, etc. Apart from this, sun exposure is the foremost cause of skin damage. It happens because of its UV or Ultraviolet light that breaks down elastin (elastic tissue) in the skin. Thus, it causes the dermis to wrinkle, sag, stretch, and become blotchy, with skin cancer and pre-cancerous growths.
Other pivotal factors contributing to Skin Conditions in Elderly and Geriatric Patients include the loss of fatty tissues between the epidermis and muscle. The key characteristics of geriatric sufferers are advanced age, a decrease in physical performance, care dependency, and multimorbidity. In addition, this stage of life leads either directly or indirectly, to a wide range of skin as well as tissue problems.
A few common skin conditions in the elderly and geriatric patients:
- Pruritis: It’s an unpleasant sensation of the epidermis which provokes the urge to scratch. The four categories of itch include generalised & localised itch with and without rash respectively. Xerosis is the medical name for the dry dermis and it’s the common cause of generalised pruritus without rash in elderly people. Apart from this, some medications such as antibiotics, antihypertensives, and diuretics also cause pruritus.
- Eczematous Dermatoses: Asteatotic, Gravitational, Autoeczematization & Nummular Eczema, as well as Seborrheic Dermatitis fall under the category of eczematous Dermatitis. Several of these conditions are commonly seen in the old population. Amid them, nummular eczema is defined by pruritic, coin-shaped lesions which may develop into scales. They are mainly found on the upper extremities, the trunk, dorsum of hands, and lower legs.
- Infections: Dermatophytosis, viral & bacterial, and candidiasis are various common skin infections in elderly and geriatric patients. To add to your knowledge, investigations for fungal ailment should include samples for microscopy (with potassium hydroxide), mycology (hair shafts, skin scrapings, nail clippings), and culture. There should also be a swab, particularly for microbiology.
- Purpura: It can be characterized as any of the group of health conditions defined by ecchymoses or small haemorrhages in the dermis, serosal surfaces, or mucous membranes. It is caused by decreased platelet counts or thrombocytomenia, trauma, drug reactions, and many more. Old persons are more susceptible to hemorrhages into the skin.
In conclusion, ageing is associated with both functional as well as structural changes in the epidermis which render it more susceptible to skin problems. Among all, Xerosis is one of the most common Skin Conditions in Elderly and Geriatric Patients. it’s crucial to keep up with learning about the area as possible for a caring growing elderly population.