Discoloration means patches of skin where the skin color is different from the original color of skin. Discolored skin in the elderly occurs due to a number of reasons. Some common causes of discoloration of the skin are illness, injury and inflammatory issues.
Discolored skin also occurs due to the difference in melanin levels in the body. Melanin is responsible for giving color to the skin and also protecting it against the sun. When melanin is overproduced in an area, that area looks darker than the rest of the body.
There are many potential causes of skin discoloration. Some of the most common ones are:
1. Stasis Dermatitis: Stasis dermatitis is a skin condition in which skin is inflamed with poor circulation. It appears mostly on lower legs where blood tends to collect more. When blood pools in the veins of the lower legs, the pressure increases. This increased pressure damages capillaries. Blood leaks on to other tissues and there is a build-up of blood cells, fluid, and protein. This build-up causes swelling called peripheral edema. Symptoms of stasis dermatitis are swollen legs and feet, open, sore, itchy and reddish skin. Skin discoloration, itching, scaling, ulcers, leg swelling, calf pain or tenderness, and a heaviness in your legs while standing.
2. Candida: Candida is a very common fungal infection. It usually appears in folds of skin like armpits, groin, buttocks, under breasts, and between fingers and toes. Obese people have a higher chance of developing candida infections. The fungus is naturally present on the skin, but weakened immunity causes it to multiply. The colony thrives in damp conditions. The infection usually starts with red rashes on the skin with wet, weepy, angry looking boils. It may progress to sore, cracked, and peeling skin with blisters and bumps. These blisters may further get infected by bacteria and cause other issues.
3. Contact Dermatitis: Contact dermatitis is a skin condition where the skin becomes discolored due to contact with irritants or allergens. The skin develops red, scaly and raw patches. There may be an appearance of blisters that weep, ooze or crust over. The skin becomes very itchy. Contact dermatitis may develop anytime between a few hours to a few days from the time the skin comes in contact with the allergen. Contact dermatitis is usually harmless and can be treated using topical ointments. You must avoid the use of harsh detergents and cleaning agents or any allergens that might trigger this condition.
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4. Eczema: Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition. Its symptoms are itchy and inflamed patches of skin. Particular types of eczema like nummular eczema and asteatotic eczema are quite common in older adults. Scratching skin with eczema irritates and inflames skin further. Eczema is treated using topical and oral antibiotics.
5. Radiotherapy: Radiation therapy is used for the treatment of diseases like cancer and also to treat internal growths. As radiotherapy involves the use of waves of high energy, like light and heat, it affects the skin hugely. The skin of older adults is usually more fragile than young skin. The epidermal and dermal layers are closer, too. This makes the skin thinner. Such skin is affected more by radiotherapy.
Also Read: Tips to Prevent Dry Skin As you Age
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