A rash is a very broad medical term for an eruption of skin lesions. There are various types of rashes and as many potential causes. As body immunity lowers in old age, infections can be contracted due to any reason including health conditions like diabetes, which may also result in rashes.
Rashes can appear on a small part of the body or all over. They could be moist, dry, cracked, smooth, scaly, blistered, painful, itchy and may change color over time. Some rashes heal up on their own, while some need medical intervention. Some rashes are an indication of some serious underlying condition.
Here we see the most common skin diseases that may cause rashes in elderly:
1. Contact Dermatitis
This is one of the most common causes of rashes. It happens when the skin comes in contact with some irritant or allergen. The skin becomes red and inflamed. There could be oozing and weeping.
Common causes are:
- Harsh detergents or cleaning agents
- Fabric dyes
- Unbranded beauty products
- Poisonous plants
- Chemicals like rubber or latex
In older adults, certain medications that they may be having for other disorders might cause rashes. This may be a side effect or an allergic reaction. Some medications like antibiotics cause photosensitivity. The rashes occurring due to photosensitivity look like sunburn rashes.
Bacterial, viral or fungal infections can cause rashes. Each infection is different depending on the type of infection and the area it affects. For example, candidiasis, a fungal infection, appears in skin folds and is generally itchy. If you suspect an infection, visit a doctor immediately.
4. Autoimmune disorders
When a person’s immune system starts attacking healthy tissues, it is called an autoimmune condition. A condition called systemic lupus erythematosus, or simply lupus, is an autoimmune disease that may affect different body parts and organs. A butterfly-shaped rash on the face is a typical symptom of an autoimmune disease.
5. Other causes of rashes
There are a number of causes of rashes other than those mentioned above.
Bites: Insect bites or stings can often cause rashes. Symptoms of rashes in case of insect bites are:
- Red and inflamed skin
Shingles: Shingles is an infection that affects older adults and those with lower immunity. It is usually caused in people who have been affected by chickenpox at a younger age. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The symptoms of shingles are:
- Painful rash on one side of the body
- Blister-like appearance
- Pain can occur even without visible rashes
Eczema: Eczema is one of the most common causes of skin rashes. There are a number of types of eczema and each one has a different line of treatment. The most common symptoms are:
- Itchy and dry skin
- Scaly patches on the skin
- Cracked and rough skin
- Red, inflamed skin
Candidiasis: Candidiasis is a common fungal infection that usually appears in folds of skin. They are usually treatable by topical creams, though some variants might need more intensive treatment. The most common symptoms are:
- Rash in folds of skin or in the area between fingers and toes
- Painful and sore rashes
- Itchy, burning and irritated skin
Statis Dermatitis: This condition is also known as varicose eczema. It happens due to poor circulation and usually appears in the lower legs. The most common symptoms are:
- Very dry and itchy skin with varicose veins
- Red, swollen skin
- Weeping or crusted-over skin
- Heaviness and achiness in legs after long periods of standing
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