Maintaining skin health in older people

Maintaining skin health in older people

Sandra Lawton Nurse consultant dermatology, Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England

Skin changes associated with age are inevitable. Ageing is associated with structural and functional changes of the skin that result in increased vulnerability. The most common functional skin changes are dryness (xerosis), which causes itching and discomfort, and skin fragility, increasing patients’ vulnerability to skin damage. Dry skin and itching have a significant effect on older people, which can be further exacerbated by products used for washing and bathing. The management of dry skin and itching is fundamental to older people’s care and nurses should act in their best interests to ensure that the potential for skin damage is addressed. However, many older people are often reluctant to discuss the problem, are embarrassed and will self-treat or try to hide an underlying problem such as incontinence or worries about being infectious or dirty. This can be challenging when managing their skin care because of under-reporting, self-medicating or the assumption that it is ‘just old age’.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2018.e1082


Lawton S (2018) Maintaining skin health in older people. Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2018.e1082

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 30 October 2018

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