Pruritus and xerosis Recognizing aging-related skin problems

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dr. Yustin Sumito, Sp.KK
dr. Yustin Sumito, Sp.KK (Source: Special)

Jakarta, IO – In Indonesia, “elderly people”, defined as those “60 years old or older” number around 29.9 million, or 10.82% of the population (2021 figure). This is expected to rise to 11.8% (about 33.7 million citizens) by 2025. 

Other than suffering from degenerative diseases, the elderly are also vulnerable to pruritus or itchy skin condition. Apart from aging, risk factors for the affliction include allergies; a history of eczema or psoriasis; suffering from diabetes; an old pregnancy or dialysis. Over the long term, pruritus may lower the quality of a person’s life. 

“In the case of the elderly, there are three aging-related stages of pruritus: first, degradation and loss of the skin’s barrier function. This lowers the skin’s ability to repair itself. Second, immunosenescence or disruption of the body’s immune system. Third, neuropathy or abnormality in the nervous system, which may result in a persistent recurrence of pruritus,” said dr. Yustin Sumito, Sp.KK, Pramudia Clinic’s dermato-venereology specialist, in a “Don’t Let Pruritus and Dry Skin Lower the Quality of Life among Elders” webinar, held in Jakarta, Thursday (03/11/2022). 

Prolonged itching may impair sleep, resulting in a deterioration of psychological and emotional functions. Proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary for elders suffering from pruritus. Early detection of the disease is enabled through anamnesis (asking the patient for their history), physical examination and comprehensive supplemental checks. The degree of severity of the itch is measured on a 1-10 scale. If the scale is 6 or higher, an itch serious enough to waken a sufferer, this signifies a serious disruption in their quality of life, and calls for aggressive treatment.