Skin in the Elderly

The skin is one of the many organs that are affected by aging. The components of skin aging are both intrinsic, meaning structural and functional disturbances, as well as extrinsic, meaning the history of years of exposure to many environmental factors. Dermatologic autoimmune diseases such as psoriatic arthritis tend to increase with age.

Physiologic and pathologic changes in the skin result in clinically significant presentation as well. Polypharmacy (the administration of many drugs together) also increases the presence of cutaneous (pertaining to the skin) manifestation, including dry skin, in the older population. Prevalence of polypharmacy increases with age and this may not only induce a dry skin condition, but other drug reactions with cutaneous manifestations.

  1. The atropy of sweat glands (a physiologic change) results in decreased sweating (a pathologic change).
  2. The reduced movement of water from dermis to epidermis (a physiologic change) results in reduced epidermal hydration a (pathologic change).
  3. A reduction of stratum corneum lipids (a physiologic change) results in the decreased ability to retain water.

The term atrophy means waste away, typically due to the degeneration of cells.