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Skin Problems in elderly People
By
Sonam Medha

Not all body organs are internal like heart and brain. There is also one organ which we wear on the outside and that is skin. 

 

Skin is the largest organ of human body. Skin performs much more function than just making us look presentable. It protects us from harmful chemicals, temperatures, damaging sunlights, etc.

 

It is said that we would literally evaporate without skin. 

 

Skin is also one of the few organs that are constantly renewing themselves. New skin cells shed off when died and the new cells from layer layer take their place. But we have seen that the skin of a child is very different from a silver-haired citizen of any country, because with age our ages too. It starts loosing fat, become thinner and scaly causing veins and bones to be seen more easily. This type of skin usually takes longer time to heal. 

 

Everyone ages different but these are very common symptoms that skin shows when starts ageing:

 

  • Developing more wrinkles and age spots
  • Sweating less
  • Healing slowly
  • thinning of skin
  • Drier than before
  • Irritated easily
  • more susceptible to skin infections
  • Itchy
  • Bruising more easily

 

Types of skin problems in elderly people:

 

Changes in Texture and appearance

 

Senile purpura:

You may or not have heard about this disease but we are sure that you must have observed people suffering from it. With age, blood vessels becomes more fragile, making it prone to bruise even from minor injury. It is a common disease in people above 50 and it harmless. We can observe these purplish red bruises or clots on the back of hands, forearms, etc. It doesn't happen because of some bleeding disorder or vitamin deficiency and neither it is something to seek treatment for, but if you are also among those who just don't like the way it look, you can have "citrus bioflavonoids" twice daily. 

 

Xerosis:

Xero means dry and Xerosis is the most common dry skin problem in elderly. In this, Skin starts losing water and oil and becomes itchy. Over cleansing, bathing too frequently, dehydration are some of the activities which may lead to Xerosis. Drinking plenty of water and applying moisturiser can prevent Xerosis to a great extent. 

 

Eczema:

Earlier, eczema skin problem was believed to happen in children only, but recently dermatologists observed many cases of eczema in elderly people above 74 too. It causes skin to bs inflamed, itchy and dry. Vitamin A deficiency is believed to treat eczema properly.  

 

Common skin problems in elderly people:

 

Wrinkles:

Getting wrinkles at old age is inevitable and it also gives mature people an individuality. Fat diminishing in the deeper layers of our skin is responsible for wrinkles. It shouldn't be ashamed of in any way. But still if you want to soften its appearance, we would suggest you to stay hydrated, eat vitamin rich food, prevent smoking and do regular exercises, yoga and meditations. 

 

Age spots:

Sometimes of face, arms, hands, feet, back, etc some brown spots appear which are bigger than freckles and were once called "liver spots". These age spots are caused by years in the sun and are harmless. Broad spectrum sunscreen can help protect you in prevent more age spots. 

 

Skin Cancer:

The primarily reason of skin cancer is sun. Though anyone can get skin cancer but people with fair skin are more likely to have it. Skin cancer can be cured if detected in early stages. It is broadly of 3 types- Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. First two are slow and comparatively less dangerous than melanoma which can spread to other organs and is deadly. Bleeding mole, sore that doesn't heal, new growths or any other changes in skin are possible signs of skin cancer. Skin cancer can be really painful, so should be taken seriously from early stages. 

 

"ABCDE" is one of the method to detect skin cancer from moles and birthmarks: 

* A= Asymmetry in mole's growth 

* B= Borders that are irregular 

* C= Color changes 

* D= Diameter greater than pencil's eraser size 

* E= Evolving, growth changes 

 

If you sew any of these signs, please contact a skin doctor to make sure it is not skin cancer. 

 

Common skin infections in aged people:

Skin protects us from germs and bacteria but it is also prone to infections itself. Dermatologists have observed that these infections are more likely to happen in seniors 

 

Bacterial infections:

 

Scabies:

Scabies is the type of skin infection cause by human itch mite. It is infectious and spreads frequently. It results in intense itching, scaling, crusting and pimple-like skin rashes 

 

Methicillin resistant staphylococcus avreus(MRSA):

MRSA is an antibiotic resistant bacteria, which causes pus-filled painful swollen bumps together in the body. 

 

Cellulitis-

It can penetrate all layers of skin, if not taken seriously on time. It generally develop on legs, making skin red and swollen. 

 

Fungal infections-

Ring worm is the infection cause by fungus and most commonly observed in feel and nails. It causes thickening in nails. 

 

Viral infections-

Shingles is a very common viral infection of skin in elders. It is observed in people who suffered from chickenpox when they were young. It results in painful, itchy rashes. They can appear as band of blisters along limbs also and hence comes under blistering disorders too. They are very painful. 

 

Changes in pigment:

 

Senile Freckles:

The most common facial skin problem is elders are brown spots which are called "senile freckles". They happen because of exposure of sunlight and in elderly skin pigment sells become less active and start swallowing. If the freckles become thicker and crust start developing on it, you should consult a doctor as this may be a sign of cancer. Removal of these freckles is possible through electrosurgery, freezing and chemical applications. 

 

Winter is coming and along with teeth-tattering it will come with lots of dryness and skin related problems. It is our suggestion that stop scratching skin to the maximum extant, don't take bath too often and stop rubbing very hardly with towel on your body. These are the possible reasons for dry skin in elders- 

  • Spending too much time in sun that too without sunscreen.
  • Smoking is also responsible for skin problems
  • Dry air
  • stress
  • Losing oil and sweat glands
  • Not drinking enough water

 

Skin diseases are common in patients suffering from other diseases like kidney diseases and diabetes. If are also facing issues, you don't have to worry because we are providing you some "home remedies" to protect you from dry skin. 

 

Coconut water-

For treating dry skin, coconut oil is one stop solution. Due to emollient properties (a fat that acts as a moisturiser), it fills the gaps in the skin by increasing the number of lipids. So it is believed to cure dry skin problems. 

 

Drinking Milk:

Though research is still going on over this one and we don't have so much information but it is believed that adding milk in our diet can improve conditions of out skin. 

 

Honey:

Honey has healing, anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties, which are ideal to relieve dry skin. Honey is a natural product and can be applied on the skin directly. 

 

Aloe Vera:

On hands/feet apply aloe vera to prevent dryness. Aloe-vera is nature's silent healer. It is advised to cover the affected area with gel and use a sock or sheet to cover it overnight for maximum benefits. 

 

Lifestyle changes which dermatologists recommend:

As our skin in 60's or 70's is not like we had in our childhood, so we can't follow the regular routine we used to follow earlier. So it is suggested to make some basis changes in our day to day life. Here are few: 

 

Changes in bathing:

To reduce dry and itchy skin, we should make some changes in the way you bathe. 

 

Stop using bar soap-

Instead of bar soap, try using creamy, gentle, fragrance free cleanser. 

 

Don't use very hot water:

Natural oil get stripped if we use very hot water on our skin and this makes our skin dry. So it is recommended to use warm water and not hot. 

 

Cloth to wash skin:

Always use a soft cloth to wash your skin gently as bath brush may irritate you. 

 

Keep it short:

You no need to take a bath daily and if you are doing then it keep it to 10 min. 

 

Leave a bit water on your skin:

After bathing you no need to remove every droplet from your skin by using towel. In fact having some water on your skin while applying moisturiser can hydrate your skin perfectly. 

 

Applying moisturiser:

Don't forget to apply creamy, fragrance free moisturiser after taking a bath that too with in 3 min after coming out of the bathroom. This will protect your skin from drying.  

 

Go fragrance free:

Stop using perfumes or skin care products that contain fragrance as that may irritate your skin. We can see the results of that immediately as by doing this you are decreasing the risk of dry and itchy skin to a large extent. 

 

Protect your skin from sun:

UV rays from Sun and the more exposure of sunlight than necessary is the root cause of the skin diseases in people. Hence, it is recommended to use sun screen while going out especially during summers.  

 

Frequently asked questions:

 

Q1. Can having milk and fish together give you white patches on skin?

Answer: I am sure, once in your life you must have heard from your parents or grandparents to not eat fish and milk together as it would lead to uneven patches on your skin, commonly called vitiligo. But the question is is this really a scientific theory about it or is it merely a superstition.Let's see what Ayurveda says, 

 

According to Ayurveda the combination of fish which is a non-vegetarian product and Milk, which is considered vegetarian, should be avoided at all costs. As consuming them together, may increase "tamas guna" in human body that can lead to imbalance. 

 

If we will talk about modern science, they doesn't very much support this as there we don't have any evidence to prove that.  

 

Infact, there are a lot of dairy products used in making fish dishes. We can't deny that fact that it may lead to indigestion but surprisingly in mediterranean meal, the combination of fish, milk and yogurt is considered as one the healthiest diets across the globe! 

 

Q.2 What causes white patches on skin then?

Answer. The answer of this question is fungal infection or destruction of malanocytes, pigment-forming cells. 

 

So, we can say that combination of milk and fish should be consumed without any fear if you are not lactose intolerant. As the side effects like itching, nousea or stomach ache are experienced by few people who are lactose intolerant otherwise it is good to go. 

 

Q3. Skin disorders in diabetic patients?

Answer. Though diabetes can affect any part of the body but generally skin is the first one to get affected. Most common skin disorders in people suffering from diabetes are- 

 

Acanthosis nigericans :

A condition that leads to thickening of the skin of neck, groin and the armpits. This kind of brown or tan areas can be observed on hands, elbows and knees too. 

 

Allegric reaction:

If you are suffering from diabetes and are observing rashes or bumps where you inject insulin, you should contact your doctor as this can be an allergic reaction to some medicine. 

 

Atherosclerosis, bacterial infections, digital sclerosis, fungal infections, itching, vitiligo, etc are also among the frequently found diseases in diabetic patients. 

 

You can most probably prevent this by- 

  • Keeping your diabetes under control
  • keeping your skin dry and clean
  • Always look at your body for sore or dry spots.
  • Avoid taking long hot baths
  • Always keep your skin moist
  • In case of chapped lips, apply lip bams.
  • Drink a lot of liquid, especially water
  • Protect your skin from sun

 

If you or your loved one is facing such issues related to skin disorders, feel free to contact emoha. 

 

At Emoha, we aim to curb all such challenging issues, that elders and the people so accompanying or related with them face. With numerous client’s satisfaction and blessings, we believe to serve this cause with open hands, to welcome the elders. 

 

Get in touch with us now at eldersfirst@emoha.com or call us at 1800-123-445555

 

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