Health Tips for Seniors

Skin abnormalities – Psoriasis, Impetigo, and Eczema


Psoriasis is one of the most common skin diseases of mature and later years. It resembles a growth of dull red splotches about the size of a dime, covered with a thin silvery white scale. Sometimes several of these growths join together and form larger patchy areas, which usually itch considerably and invite scratching, which removes the silvery white scale to start up tiny points of bleeding underneath. Psoriasis most often starts on the elbows, knees or scalp, but any region on the body may be involved in both men and women. It is considered to be primarily a disease of adult years.
Treatment of psoriasis is difficult since its cause is unknown, but skin specialists have found certain lotions, salves and cleansing preparations to be very helpful, along with x-ray therapy, diet and internal drugs, all of which can be used in psoriasis with good effect.


Impetigo is an infectious disease, very common in children, and is known to be highly contagious. Fortunately, it is very rare in the senior age group, but can occur as a series of small pimples in isolated instances.


Eczema is a type of skin irritation due to contact with an irritating substance outside of the body. The skin is reddened, swollen and itching and has the appearance of minute blisters, exuding a “weeping” fluid. Eczema is not an infection, but is a direct reaction to contact with paint, cosmetics, poison ivy, shaving cream or almost any substance to which a person may have frequent contacts. It can appear on any skin area, but exposed regions such as the hands, arms, face and neck seem to be most involved.

Treatment of eczema includes searching for the substance responsible for the skin reaction. This may grow into a hunt of the most minute and detailed nature. Oils from various products, painted hand-rails, gloves, animals, food and dozens of other possible offenders must be suspected in order to find the provocative substance initiating the disease. Sometimes it proves to be a combination of offending substances, while at other times, the source of the difficulty cannot be traced and the patient is forced to change his environment completely to clear his skin difficulty. In determining possible offending substances, the patch test is often used. Suspected liquids, such as chemicals, nail polish, lipstick or soaps are painted on a definite skin area. Solid objects, such as coins are held to the skin with adhesive tape. If a tested substance incites the eczema, a redness of the skin appears in a very short time. If no redness develops, the tested substance was not guilty and the investigation proceeds elsewhere. Most of the common offenders producing eczema are known to the physician, who can test twenty to thirty such substances at one time. In this manner it is possible for him to arrive at the cause of the eczema in the shortest possible time. There are also available several drugs that can at least alleviate symptoms temporarily to decrease the discomfort of eczema until testing can be completed.

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