Eczema In The Elderly: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments

Eczema is a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough, red, and inflamed, with blisters that may also cause itching and bleeding. The word“eczema” is derived from the Greek word meaning “to boil over.”

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Eczema: Skin Conditions In The Elderly

  • Wrinkles are the most visible sign of aging skin. They follow chronic sun exposure and form when the skin loses its flexibility. Smokers tend to have more wrinkles than nonsmokers.
  • Facial movement lines: These lines become more visible as the skin loses its elasticity (in your 40’s or 50’s). The lines may be horizontal on the forehead, vertical above the nose, or curved on the temples, upper cheeks, and around the mouth and eyes.
  • Dry and itching skin: Dry, flaking skin is a common problem among adults, especially the elderly. The loss of oil glands (which help to keep the skin soft) is the main cause of dry skin. Rarely, dry, itchy skin may be a sign of diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease.
  • Skin cancer: Sun exposure (UV radiation) is the most common cause of pre-cancers and skin cancer, either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. A million Americans each year will develop a skin cancer by age 65.
  • Age spots: “Age spots” are brown patches that appear on sun-exposed parts of the body (face, hands, and forearms), usually during the adult years.
  • Bedsores: Bedsores are skin ulcers that develop from pressure when people lie in bed or sit in a chair for long periods of time. Bedsores are a fairly common problem in elderly people who have difficulty moving on their own. People with diabetes are more prone to bedsores because of their poor circulation and decreased feeling in their skin. Frequent rotation or re-positioning helps to prevent bedsores.

 

Eczema: Treatments For The Elderly

  • Wrinkles can be softened through the use of tretinoin (Renova), especially in wrinkles caused by sun damage.
  • Dry skin, The best treatment is to lubricate regular use of over-the-counter lotions. Moisturizers help to hydrate the skin. In addition, humidifiers can also help to hydrate the skin. Avoid Frequent bathing as it can make dry skin drier.
  • Skin cancer: A “changing mole” or new skin growth needs evaluation by a dermatologist. A biopsy might be necessary.

 

Eczema In The Elderly: Other Treatment Issues To Consider

Medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and antibiotics against infections, may confound diagnosis of eczema in the elderly.

In a skilled nursing home facility, seniors’ treatment for eczema won’t be hindered by arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety or memory issues.

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