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Psoriasis in seniors: August is Psoriasis Awareness Month

BHC psoriasis care.jpgPsoriasis is a skin condition that causes raised, red patches. It typically affects the scalp, elbows and knees, but can appear anywhere on the body. These patches may itch, burn, or sting. 

While psoriasis primarily affects the skin, but it can have an impact on overall health.

Seniors become more vulnerable to psoriasis because aging skin is less able to fight psoriasis flare-ups. Helping seniors manage psoriasis symptoms improves their quality of life.

What causses psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease of the autoimmune system. Symptoms can disappear or flare up at any time, and the condition is not curable. The Skin becomes inflammation and thickened and can become scaly.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that triggers abnormally rapid skin cell generation. The skin cells build up causing psoriasis lesions.

Who is at risk for psoriasis?

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, an estimated 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis.

Psoriasis is not contagious and psoriasis lesions are not infectious. Immune system disorders and genetics are key factors in its development.  
Psoriasis often develops in young adults ages of 15 to 35, but it can develop at any age. While men and women have psoriasis at equal rates, Caucasians are almost twice as likely as African Americans to develop the disease. Heredity is also a factor - about one-third of psoriasis sufferers have family members with the disease.

As we age, changes in our skin reduce its ability to protect itself. Skin thins as collagen is lost and loses its elasticity. Decreased blood supply means wounds and irritations heal more slowly, and cell replacement slows. Seniors also experience a lower level of Langerhans’s cells, which help fight off skin infections. Psoriasis is associated with other severe health conditions that affect seniors in higher numbers, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.

Some medications used for other conditions may interact with your psoriasis treatment or even provoke an outbreak. Seniors should make sure their doctor knows about all medicines they are using, including over-the-counter drugs.

What are the symptoms of psoriasis?

People living psoriasis may think the disease is just a rash, and often do not seek medical attention that can reduce symptoms and discomfort.
Common psoriasis symptoms include:

  • Dandruff
  • Itching
  • Fungal infections around the nails
  • Red or pink bumps on the skin
  • Scaly or raised skin

Psoriasis treatment

Diagnosing psoriasis typically requires a family history, a skin examination and, in some cases, a biopsy.

Treatments can include topical steroids, light therapy and oral medications.

Corticosteroids used to treat psoriasis can cause side effects in seniors, such as thinning skin, purple spots, infection or a tendency to bruise easily.  
Psoriasis may be uncomfortable and, in some cases, embarrassing, but with the right diagnosis and treatment its symptoms can be managed.
If you suspect a senior loved one is experiencing a psoriasis flare up, contact their physician.

Belvedere Home Care caregivers watch each of our seniors for new or unusual symptoms that may require additional attention. They also help seniors with medication schedules and doses to make sure their treatment is most effective.

If you have concerns about your senior's health at home, contact Belvedere for more information about our flexible, customized care plans. Call us at (518) 694-9400 Option 4 or email info@belvedereservices.com.