Skincare and overall skin health is an extremely important factor for maintaining good health and well-being in all individuals in order to prevent infections and illnesses from occurring. It is particularly important within the elderly population who are at a greater risk of developing illnesses and infections that can be associated with poor skin care.
As we get older there are a number of changes that occur to the skin. Changes to the skin may occur as a result of damage, and other factors from daily life, and these factors include: personal habits, diet, lifestyle, genetics, stress, and sun exposure. Skin changes may include: roughened or dry skin, benign growths, loose facial skin (particularly around the eyes, cheeks and jaw line), transparent or thinned skin, and individuals may bruise more easily because of reduced elasticity within the skin.
Skin Conditions In The Elderly
There are a number of skin conditions that can be extremely common amongst the elderly. The most common skin conditions that occur are dry itchy skin, and Pressure Sores.
Dry Itchy Skin
Dry itchy skin amongst the elderly could be caused by a number of conditions including: Psoriasis, Seborrhoeic Dermatitis, and Eczema.
Psoriasis causes red flaky patches of skin covered with silvery scales that generally occur on an individual’s knees, elbows, scalp and lower back. These patches are usually itchy and sore. Although there is no cure for Psoriasis there are a number of treatments that could help to alleviate the symptoms including: topical ointments and creams, corticosteroids, and phototherapy (exposing skin to certain types of ultraviolet light).
Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes patches of inflamed skin. Patches tend to occur on oily areas of the body including the face and scalp. Symptoms include: red patches of skins, white/yellow scales that may appear on the affected areas of skin, and itchy and sore areas of skin. There currently isn’t a cure for Seborrhoeic Dermatitis, however treatments include: corticosteroids, topical creams and ointment, medicated shampoos, and antifungal medications.
Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked and inflamed. Eczema is a long-term chronic condition that mainly affects any areas with folds of skin (e.g. behind the knees). The exact cause of Eczema isn’t known however causes may include allergies and pre-existing conditions (e.g. Asthma). There currently is no cure for Eczema but there are a number of treatments available including: emollients, corticosteroids, antihistamines, and antibiotics.
Pressure Sores are an injury that causes the breakdown of skin and the underlying tissue. This type of injury is caused when an area of the body is put under pressure for a period of time. This is a common type of skin injury amongst the elderly because they are more likely to spend large quantities of time sitting or lying in the same position as a result of other health issues. Pressure Sores can be treated in a number of ways including: the use of creams and gels, and dressings designed to speed up the healing process. By regularly changing an individual’s position or using specially designed equipment to protect vulnerable parts of the body the healing process can be aided further, or the formation of Pressure Sores can be prevented altogether.
Home Care And Elderly Skin Conditions
Implementing a care package could be be beneficial for an individual who is suffering from a severe skin conditions. This is because a care worker would be able to support an individual with all aspects of personal care. This would include ensuring that an individual’s personal hygiene is maintained to a high standard, and this can be done through bathing an individual, or assisting them with washing. Cleanliness of the skin helps to prevent infections.
Another way in which care assistants would be able to assist an individual who is suffering from a skin condition would be to help with applying topical creams and ointments. It is important that this is done, particularly when working with older individuals in order to prevent injuries which could cause problems with the skin (e.g. pressure sores). This also provides the care worker with the opportunity to check any areas of the skin that could potentially cause the individual problems, and if any are identified a district nurse or doctor could be brought in to assist the individual. This ensures that the skin remains in good condition, and prevents illness or infection.