Winter is a prime time for most people to start battling pruritus, and that goes double for your senior family member. She may find that she’s dealing with this irritating skin issue around the same time every year because of low humidity and central heating. But there are other potential causes for pruritus, too, and it’s important to understand all of them.
What Is Pruritus?
Pruritus is the medical term for itchy, dry skin. This can be an especially irritating health issue for seniors because skin becomes thinner and much more fragile. Scratching at dry, irritated skin can cause wounds and can exacerbate cracked skin to the point that it becomes infected. You definitely want to avoid this for your senior as much as possible.
Symptoms of Pruritus
There are other symptoms of pruritus beyond just itchiness and dry skin. Your senior may notice small bumps or blisters in the areas that are also dry and itchy. Her skin may be red in those areas, too, and she may have small areas of skin that feel leathery. If she’s been scratching a lot, you may be able to see visible scratch marks that scab over.
What Causes Pruritus?
There is so much that can cause and contribute to pruritus for your senior, ranging from mental health causes to simply too dry skin. Eczema, nerve damage, and even liver issues can all contribute. Sometimes pruritus is a result of side effects from medications, especially ones that affect the liver or kidneys. If your elderly family member is under a great deal of stress, that can also contribute to pruritus.
Managing Dry, Itchy Skin
If your elderly family member is susceptible to pruritus, managing it properly is crucial. Having help from home care providers can make this so much easier for her. Shorter showers that are cooler is really important, as is moisturizer after bathing. Humidifiers can help as well. If your elderly family member has a difficult time hydrating properly, home care providers can remind her to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. And if stress or mental health concerns are contributing to pruritus, don’t underestimate how much having help from home care services can relieve that pressure on your senior.
Always talk with your senior’s doctor any time you notice new health issues. There may be some other contributing factors that her doctor can help to manage as well.