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Itchy Skin

Itchy Skin

Why is my skin so itchy ?

Many patients over the age of 65 complain of itch (pruritus) . Itching can be attributed to normal maturity and physiological aging. Extrinsic changes result from UV exposure, cigarette smoking, environmental factors, and exposure to irritants. There are also concomitant biological changes that occur in the skin including decrease of the epidermis, dermis, and subcutis, as well as immune system changes. During the aging process , many epidermal skin changes occur such as decreased elasticity, decreased skin surface lipids and hydration, and decreased skin density and responsiveness.

There are a number of dermatological and metabolic conditions which can contribute to pruritus, including xerosis and other skin conditions . Other contributors to itch include drug therapy, psychological causes, and many systemic diseases. Underlying metabolic conditions that can produce pruritus include renal failure, HIV, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, parathyroid disease, hypervitaminosis A, iron-deficiency anemia, neuropathy, hepatic disease, malignancy, and drugs

Additional management suggestions include the following:

  • Reduced frequency of bathing with lukewarm (not hot) water
  • Minimal use of a nonirritant soap such as CeraVe soap, avoid harsh skin cleansers
  • Apply moisturizer of choice directly on skin that is still damp
  • Avoid friction from washcloths, rough clothing, and abrasives
  • Use air humidification in dry environments

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