Pruritus is the most common skin ailment in people over 65 years old. So why do so few people know what it is?
Defined by Medscape as the unpleasant sensation that provokes the desire to scratch – otherwise known as “itch” – there are a number of potential reasons as to why this is the case. First, research studies about itch are not very abundant, so very little information can be gathered. Secondly, there are a number of other ailments that are often determined to be associated with the onset of pruritus, such as kidney disease, endocrine complications, psychiatric issues, renal failure, psoriasis, lice, and dry skin. Medications can also cause itching in some elderly patients. So pruritus is often “lumped in” with different, more well-researched diseases, leading to a shortage of advanced knowledge about its actual scientific causes and potential treatments.
But what about when pruritus occurs in seniors when no other medical factors are present? This is called senile pruritus. As people continue to live longer, this diagnosis will increase – and perhaps so shall studies of this affliction for which so little information is available compared to other skin issues.
What can be done to combat pruritus?
If the itch is prolonged and extreme, Today’s Geriatric Medicine suggests considering that there may be another underlying problem, like perhaps one of the few listed above. But for many cases, some simple home choices could ease the itch. Switching to a moisturizing or ph-balanced soap, or changing one’s lotion to something that contains a skin repair agent like ceramide could do the trick. Prescription medications like fexofenadine are known to help treat itch with no apparent cause. Humidifiers can make environments more comfortable by moistening the air to prevent drying skin. Hot water for bathing should be avoided.
As with every ailment we discuss at 805Aging, your first line of defense for your elderly parent will always be education. New discoveries out there are revealed constantly, so talk to your Mom or Dad if she or he begins exhibiting symptoms. Then, bring in the company of a knowledgeable physician to help pave their road back to comfort.
There is so much to think about when entering the later stages of life. If you are considering elder care options, we at 805Aging can help. Our professional staff specializes in assisting you to choose the right kind of care for your loved one.
We conduct regular check-ins when you are unable to do so. 805Aging also provides oversight and detailed feedback to the family to keep your loved one safe and well-cared for day or night, weekday or weekend, holiday and every day.
We have the resources. We can hold your hand. We can guide you. Your peace of mind is our main goal, and is well assured. To find out more, call us at 805-750-4755 or visit our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter: www.805Aging.com.
There is no manual on how to take care of your parents as they age. They had a baby book when you were young. You have us. -Amy