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Geriatric Treatment is a branch of medicine which deals with problems of the elderly ranging from cognition, memory, assisted living, to diseases of the skin. Age is something which we do not have a control over. With age, various problems arise both internally within the body as well as externally with regard to the skin. Elderly population is most vulnerable to skin infection and other dermatological diseases due to the changes that occur with age. The skin becomes tight, dry, and thin.
The chances of injuring the skin in the elderly gets easier and it takes more time than normal for them to heal. Elderly people are prone to problems like persistent skin itching, infections, and even ulcerations. In some cases, some of these ulcerations can be quite serious and potentially life threatening.
What Are The Common Skin Conditions Seen In The Elderly?
Senile Purpura:This is a condition commonly seen in the elderly population where purple colored spots appear on the skin surface in the upper and lower extremities. It is mainly caused due to the skin becoming thin and the fragile nature of the capillaries and vessels beneath the skin surface due to age.
Stasis Dermatitis: This condition causes dry skin. There is also heightened itching sensation seen more in elderly females than males.
Exfoliative Dermatitis: This form of dermatitis is more severe in nature than stasis dermatitis where there is shedding and peeling of the skin. The excessive itching sensation hat this condition causes can lead to frequent infections in the elderly population.
Bacterial Skin Infections: Age is not a factor when it comes to bacterial skin infections. However, the elderly people are more susceptible to it than the younger population because of the sensitive nature of the skin in the age group above 70 years. Scabies and ringworm are the most common infections that are seen in the elderly population.
Viral Skin Conditions: Shingles and Herpes Zoster are some of the viral infections that are quite common in people above the age of 70 due to the immune system being compromised. This makes them vulnerable to viral infections more than the normal population.
How To Take Care Of Skin In The Elderly?
Generally speaking, the skin of elderly people requires more care and attention due to the frailty and dryness that is associated with it. If the skin becomes excessively dry then the likelihood of the skin surface cracking increases which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the body and cause infections.
Mentioned below are some easy techniques to take care of the skin in the elderly.
- It is always recommended to avoid any hot baths frequently. It is best to heat water not to excessively so that it can be easy on the skin.
- It is better to try and avoid soaps with chemicals and fragrances as it can do more harm than good. Additionally, it is recommended to apply moisturizers after every bath to keep the skin moist and prevent any cracking or peeling of the skin.
- Ensure that the person does not spend excessive time in a bed or a wheelchair, as it may lead to bedsores. If the individual cannot be moved about in the room, it is best to change their positions every hour or so to prevent pressure ulcers from developing. Equipment like catheters should also be changed on a regular basis to prevent the skin from getting infected at the entry site of the catheter.
- Abstaining from smoking completely helps a great deal in keeping the skin healthy
- Double chin reduction
- Avoid over exposure to sunlight or always apply sunscreen when venturing out in the sun to prevent the skin from getting dry and cracked
- It is essential to stay hydrated to keep the skin moist and prevent scaling of the skin
In conclusion, skin care is extremely essential for the elderly population. This is because a dry cracked skin opens the doorway for various bacterial and viral infections, aside from becoming vulnerable to various skin disorders. Stasis dermatitis and senile purpura are the most common skin conditions that are seen in the elderly population. They can be taken care of by applying moisturizers, lotions, and gels. However, it is highly recommended for caregivers to pay special attention to skin care for any elderly patient.
It should be a regular practice to avoid excessive hot water when bathing and using soaps and creams with chemicals to prevent the skin from getting adversely affected. Bedsores which is extremely common in the elderly population is also something that caregivers should be wary about, especially in patients who cannot move about on their own an are pretty much bedridden.
For such patients, it is important to change positions regularly to prevent formation of pressure ulcers. For a bacterial or vial skin infection, it is best to seek consultation with a physician for prompt treatment and prevent complications in an elderly patient.
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