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Senior Health: Understanding Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that results in red, scaly patches of skin. While the condition can occur anywhere, it typically appears on the elbows, knees, scalp, around ears, around the genitals and buttocks, and on the stomach around the navel. Here’s what you need to know if you provide home care in Annapolis for a senior loved one who is dealing with psoriasis.

Why Some Seniors Get Psoriasis

Psoriasis can be caused by an overreaction within the immune system, making seniors with weakened immune systems more susceptible to developing the condition. Psoriasis can also be genetic. Psoriasis, whether it runs in the family or not, can appear at any age. However, a different management protocol is typically recommended for seniors. Signs and symptoms related to psoriasis may include:

• Red, inflamed skin (often itchy and uncomfortable)
• Loose, silver-colored scales (that sometimes crack and bleed)
• Discoloration or detachment of fingernails and toenails

Managing Psoriasis in Seniors

Psoriasis is seniors can be mild, moderate, or severe, although seniors tend to experience moderate to severe outbreaks. Managing psoriasis in seniors can be difficult since older patients tend to have multiple chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease that can make treatment a challenge since drugs to treat psoriasis may interfere with other medications, with angiotensin receptor blockers and interferon for hepatitis C being examples of drugs that may exasperate psoriasis symptoms. Psoriasis treatments typically include:

• Methotrexate and cyclosporine (for more severe psoriasis)*
• Moisturizers and lotions (to help manage flare-ups)
• Salicylic acid (removes scales)
• Steroids/corticosteroids (reduces inflammation)

*Side effects from these drugs can be more severe in seniors, making topical treatments the first step in managing senior psoriasis before resorting to such medications.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, 10-30 percent of patients with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which can result in painful swelling around joints. For seniors who already have some type of arthritis, this condition can result in more intense pain with movement. Psoriasis symptoms can often be managed with careful observation from hourly or live-in caregivers and doctors.

To learn more about promoting senior health and wellness, reach out to Home Care Assistance. In addition to hourly and live-in care, we also offer specialized dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s care in Annapolis for seniors with advanced conditions. Give a friendly Care Manager a call at 443-302-2771 and find out more about our comprehensive care services.