Old age does not come without its problems. Skin changes inevitably arise as the result of ageing,1 in addition to the more obvious mobility problems and diseases that are a part of growing older. There are currently 10 million people in the UK who are over 65 years of age, and 3 million over 80. There will be an estimated 15 million people over 65 by 2030 and 19 million by 2050.2 Therefore, those involved in the care of older people will need to recognise skin problems as they arise and know how to prevent or minimise their effects.
The skin serves as a protective barrier against outside injury, prevents loss of moisture from the body, regulates temperature, reduces the effects of ultraviolet rays from the sun and allows sensations of touch. These effects are achieved by the functions of cells within the three layers of the skin; the superficial epidermis, the dermis and underlying subcutaneous layer.3