Major skin changes are one of the many features occurring with ageing and it is estimated that 70% of older people have skin problems (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS), 2000). A report into skin diseases in older people highlighted that they were noted to suffer from a lack of sensitivity to their skin care needs and related problems; furthermore, training was lacking for healthcare professionals and service provision was not planned (APPGS, 2000). The aim of this article is to highlight the importance of skin care in the older person and increase the nurse's knowledge of skin changes associated with age.
It is well recognised that skin problems in older people can have a significant impact on all aspects of their daily living. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS) (2000) conducted a study on skin diseases in older people, which highlighted that:
Major skin changes are one of the many features occurring with ageing and it is estimated that 70% of older people have skin problems. The APPGS (2000) made a number of recommendations to improve the treatment and management of skin diseases in the older person. Measures need to be taken to improve both older peoples' and nurses' knowledge base and skills in caring for ageing skin. The APPGS (1998) have stated that with sufficient training and expertise, many skin disorders could be managed effectively at the primary care level. The enquiry highlighted a lack of basic skin care for people in nursing homes and residential homes, which often employ unqualified or under-qualified nursing staff. It also highlighted the importance of basic skin care, including the regular and correct use of emollients to prevent common skin problems such as dryness, itching and asteatotic eczema (also known as ‘eczema craquelé’, which is common in older people).
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