Community nurses will nurse many older people with skin care needs, with estimates suggesting that up to 70 per cent of the UK's ageing population have a skin condition.1
Eczema is a common skin problem in older people. The terms eczema and dermatitis are interchangeable. Generally, eczema is used to describe poorly demarcated skin inflammation with scaling and thickening that includes several different types of eczema which affect older people, including atopic, seborrhoeic, discoid, varicose, photosensitive and asteatotic eczema. See the box below for a list of types of eczema in older people.
Dermatitis is used to describe an inflammatory skin response that results from contact with an external agent. This skin response leads to an irritant reaction (e.g. from detergents, soap, acids, alkaline, cement, solvents, chemicals and plants) or an allergic reaction (e.g. from nickel, cosmetics, perfumes, hair dye, other dyes, plants and ultraviolet light).
This article discusses eczema in older people, describing different types of eczema, the management of eczema in primary care, and considering trigger factors that may exacerbate eczema for the older person.
Dry skin and eczema
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