Why do very old people get thin
Pergement skin - causes and care
In the area of ventilated patients, a long-term consequence often occurs from which those affected suffer greatly - the parchment skin. After an injury, the healing process takes a long time, which is usually associated with pronounced wound pain.
Causes of parchment skin
A so-called parchment skin is very thin and also loses a lot of its elasticity. The veins are clearly visible under the skin and there is almost no subcutaneous fatty tissue left. Bleeding occurs even with a slight scratch. The skin is also very susceptible to bruises and skin lesions. Typically, in most cases of parchment skin, after lifting the skin between two fingers, a small fold of skin remains for a few seconds.
The appearance of parchment skin is often age-related. In old age, parchment skin can develop due to the natural aging process of the skin, because the skin becomes thinner with increasing age in every person, even if there is no underlying disease.
In younger patients, taking certain medications, such as cortisone or anticoagulants, can cause parchment skin. In this case, the attending physician should question the relationship between skin and medication. Even in people with liver disease or diabetes, the skin can become very thin and dry.
Proper care is the be-all and end-all
Parchment skin is one thing above all: sensitive.
Affected areas are usually the forearms, hands and shins. Because of the thin and dry skin, those affected often suffer injuries because, similar to parchment paper, the skin tears when exposed to light.
The slow healing process makes life with parchment skin even more difficult. In any case, a high sun protection factor should be ensured if the skin is exposed to direct sunlight.
Despite the mostly colder temperature sensation, those affected should rather avoid hot baths. This also dries out the already dehydrated skin. At this point, showering with lukewarm water and a PH-neutral shower gel or shower oil is more suitable.
With dry skin, it is particularly important to use a shower gel that does not additionally dry out the skin, but rather gives it as much moisture as possible while showering. If the skin problems are not yet too pronounced, you can still find pH-skin-neutral shower gels specially developed for dry skin in retail outlets. These should be free of preservatives, artificial colors, perfume and alcohol. Alternatively, shower oils, free of soaps and chemical additives, can also be used. These do not foam, but protect the skin while showering and leave a pleasant feeling. The more natural the shower gel or oil, the less harm it does to dry skin.
In the case of severe skin problems, the dermatologist must take action and prescribe an appropriate product. The following also applies: only use shower gel on the areas where sweat and odor develop; rinse the rest of the body with just plain water. Washcloths and towels made of microfiber should also be avoided for the care of parchment skin, because microfibers remove unnecessarily much moisture from the skin during care or drying. Hard sponges or brushes are also unsuitable due to the risk of injury. It is essential to supply the parchment skin with sufficient oil and moisture. The skin should be moisturized with suitable care products at least once or twice a day. We especially recommend products that contain a lot of panthenol. But products with aloe vera are also suitable for protection. The care products should also be free from preservatives and artificial colors as well as free from perfume and alcohol.
When should sufferers see a doctor?
It is also advisable to see a doctor for smaller skin lesions. Due to the difficult healing process of the parchment skin, infections can develop quickly. For smaller lesions / peeling, a wound pad with silicone adhesive should be used to cover the skin defect. These have the advantage of being worn for a long time for non-infected wounds and thus ensure that the wound is calm, which is so important for healing. For larger lesions / peeling, a "non adhesive" wound pad. Which you then fix with an elastic hose bandage or bandage.
If the lesions recur, a polymer gel elbow protector can also be used. These are now reimbursable to the GKV. This avoids further skin lesions and the skin is cared for. The protection can also be used during wound therapy to fix the "non-adhesive" wound dressings and then for prophylaxis after healing.
To the author
Sebastian Kruschwitz is head of the wound management department in the ZBI Group.
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