Dermatological conditions are common among the elderly as the occurrence of many skin diseases increases with aging and cumulative environmental exposures, most notably, ultraviolet radiation (UVR). The prevalence of skin diseases rises steadily throughout life. Various biological and physiological changes in the skin of older people account for an increased susceptibility to disease. In addition, many skin conditions observed more commonly in the elderly are the result of a higher prevalence of systemic diseases that affect skin such as diabetes, vascular insufficiency, and various neurological conditions. Furthermore, the increased incidence of some skin disorders in the elderly may be a consequence of reduced local skin care because of decreased mobility or functional impairment.
Caring for skin conditions in the elderly requires an awareness of cutaneous changes associated with aging and chronic UVR exposure, as well as knowledge of common tumors, inflammatory diseases, and infections seen in older persons. As elderly persons represent the fastest growing segment of the population, providers will encounter dermatological conditions associated with aging more and more frequently. Because geriatric patients are living longer today than in the past, the likelihood of their developing skin conditions is substantial. Moreover, the current cohort of aging individuals, namely the “baby boomers” are anticipated to present with increasing rates of many skin conditions including skin cancer, as they are believed to have had greater UVR exposure compared with prior generations without the early benefit of currently available sunscreens.