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Skin problems among the elderly.

Skin, hair and nails change dramatically with age. As our population increasingly gets older (experts estimate the U.S. population will have close to 32 million persons age 65 or older by the next decade), the need for skin treatments specifically for the senior population must grow as well.

Some of the more common skin problems among the elderly include dry skin (which affects most people by age 70), seborrheic keratosis (age spots-sometimes precancerous) and actinic lentigo (liver spots, or sun freckles). Skin tags or string moles are more common among obese people and occur on the neck, groin, or in the armpits. Other problems range from cherry hemangiomas (harmless tiny red spots or bumps) to skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma. Skin also bruises more easily, due to loss of body fat and the fragility of blood vessels; hair shafts and nails also tend to break more easily, leading to baldness and peeling of nails.

Recent treatments, such as the alpha-hydroxy acids and retinoic acids, can help the skin avoid cracking and give it a more youthful appearance, but the best treatment of all, says the American Academy of Dermatology, is simply to avoid excessive sun exposure.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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