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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 01:09 GMT
Skin diseases 'ignored in elderly'
care homes
Patients in care homes are vulnerable to skin problems
Seven out of every 10 elderly people in the UK have some sort of skin disease - but many are not getting the right treatments.

In particular, patients living in care homes are not having decent access to help for skin problems, says a parliamentary inquiry.

Skin conditions which affect the elderly
Psoriasis and Eczema - itchy scaly rashes
Leg ulcers and pressure sores - 3% over 85 suffer from them
Scabies - common in residential accommodation, causes extreme itching
Lymphoedema - chronic and uncomfortable swelling
The Associate Parlimentary Group on Skin has called on the Department of Health to make more funding available for television and radio campaigns.

Its report, published on Tuesday, has found that while the majority of these skin conditions are entirely treatable, many older people are either too ashamed to seek help, or do not get the right help when they aks.

Skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, scabies, and even cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, are more common in the elderly.

Consultant dermatologists believe that up to 50% of their patients are more than 60-years-old.

Elderly patients with skin diseases are often at the bottom of the pile

Peter Lapsley, Skin Care Campaign
Bruce George, MP for Walsall and chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Group on Skin, said: "It's clear that many of the far-reaching findings of the report, that a strategy based around prevention is key to any future policy on dermatological care for the elderly.

"The enquiry recognises that ageism has no part in a modern NHS which strices to deliver high standards of care to all parts of the community."

The Skin Care Campaign welcomed the report. Its chief executive, Peter Lapsley, said: "The enquiry confirms what we've suspected for long time - that elderly patients with skin diseases are often at the bottom of the pile when it comes to healthcare.

"Dermatology, particularly in elderly patients, has been de-prioritised, but the report shows that timely preventative measures can make a huge difference to the quality of life of millions of patients."

The inquiry report says that pressure sores - often caused by being bedridden long-term, are an example of an almost entirely preventable condition which costs the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds to treat, and leave patients in misery.

It calls for pressure ulcer prevention to be a priority in hospital targets.

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11 Jan 00 | Medical notes
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