Common skin problems in the over-50s

Lesley Dobson / 31 October 2014

Later-age skin conditions: actinic keratoses, pruritis, eczema, psoriasis.



According to the British Skin Foundation there are about eight million people in the UK with skin disease. Here is our guide to four of those most common in people aged 50 and over.

What are actinic keratoses?

Actinic keratoses are patches of thicker, sometimes scaly, skin that often appear on the backs of your hands and arms, face, ears, and, on the scalp of bald men and on women’s lower legs.

These patches can be pink, red or brown or the same colour as your skin. They may be like sandpaper to touch, and may be hard and rather warty, or raised up from the surrounding skin.

Find out more about actinic keratoses causes and treatments.

What is pruritis?

The main symptom of pruritis is itchy skin without a rash. The most common cause for this condition in people over 65 is dry skin. Itchy skin can also be caused by other skin problems, such as insect bites, eczema, allergies, or conditions that affect the whole body, for instance liver problems, or by medicines.

Find out more about pruritis causes and treatments.

What is varicose eczema?

There are a number of different types of eczema (also known as dermatitis), which commonly result in patches of dry, scaly, red and itchy skin. In more severe cases, there may also be weeping, crusting and bleeding.

Varicose eczema is particularly common in older people. Reports suggest that 20% of those aged over 70 are affected by it.  It begins with mild itchiness of your skin around a patch of varicose veins, becoming speckled, scaly and inflamed. It may, in some cases, also turn brown and feel hard to the touch.

Find out more about the causes and treatments for varicose eczema.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a non-contagious condition that usually causes reddened patches of skin covered with thin silvery scales. Although it often develops in the teens or 20s, it can also appear in your 50s or 60s.

There are a number of types of psoriasis, including plaque psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, nail psoriasis and, sometimes, psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints.

Find out more about psoriasis.

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