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Pathological Conditions of the Skin which may occur as a result of Ageing

Updated: Jan 3


Skin Tags

A skin tags is a growth on the skin which may look similar to a wart however unlike warts, skin tags are not contagious. They are a cluster of collagen fibres and other blood, nerve and fat cells and are surrounded by a thinned layer of keratin cells. It is thought they also occur due to friction and can be associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can develop with age and are most often found in the skin folds such as the neck, armpits and groin. It is important to identify skin tags for blemish removal as Seborrhoeic keratoses, viral warts or molluscum contagiosum may also resemble skin tags.


keratosis

keratosis is a harmless growth that appears on the skin usually caused by excessive exposure to Ultraviolet light or friction. They begin in the basal layer of the epidermis therefore the growth contains a mixture of keratin and melanin pigment which is what gives the growth its mole like appearance. They’re common in people over the age of 50, but younger adults can get them as well.


Angiomas

Cherry angiomas can affect anyone of any age or skin type. However, they are more common on those over the age of 40 and more noticeable on lighter skin types than due to their red or purple appearance. They can look like a small freckle which is red in appearance or they can look similar to a mole or skin tag in appearance but instead of being skin coloured they are red. This is because they are composed of tiny blood vessels, thickened papillary dermis and collagen. Similar to Spider Naevi and Telangiectasia they are caused through tiny, dilated blood vessels under the skin.


Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is an invasive skin cancer which means that it can grow quickly however it usually remains localised. Basal cells are situated in the lower epidermis (stratum basal). basal keratinocytes divide by mitosis to create the keratinocytes which form our epidermal later. Basal cell carcinoma most often develops on the head and neck, although it can be found anywhere on the skin. It is mainly caused by exposure to UV radiation.

Squamous cell carcinoma. The squamous cell layer of the skin is located above the basal layer of the skin which is called the Stratum Spinosum. Similar to basal cell carcinoma, this type of cancer is normally caused by exposure to Ultraviolet light. While basal cell carcinoma usually begins as a bump or nodule, squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a red inflamed freckle or wart which can grow, bleed and form crusts. This type of skin cancer is more likely to spread deep into the tissues of the skin and to other parts of the body.

Melanoma. Is a serious type of skin cancer. Melanocytes are situated in the basal layer of the skin. Melanocytes produce a protein called melanin, which protects the skin cells from the sun by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) rays. Melanocytes are found in equal numbers in black and white skin, but melanocytes in black skin produce much more melanin which is the pigment which also gives the skin its colour. People with dark brown or black skin are very much less likely to be damaged by UV light than those with white skin. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. A melanoma can appear as a mole which has variety of colours including light to dark brown, black, blueish or red. It may have an irregular shape, itch, bleed and crust. (Anon., n.d.)


Decubitus ulcers

These are also known as bed sores. A decubitus ulcer is formed due to the pressure of weight from the body against a firm surface which effects the skin. The pressure of the weight, cuts of the blood supply to the skin so its unable to receive its nutrients. The skin will initially look red or discoloured. However, if the pressure isn’t relieved the tissue will eventually form ischemia, necrosis and die. The pressure is usually through sitting in a wheelchair of lying in a bed for long periods of time.


Eczema

Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, sore, and inflamed. Eczema is not contagious. Eczema occurs when an irritant or an allergen from either outside or inside the body triggers an immune system response which produces inflammation on the skin causing the itchy, painful, rash-like symptoms. As with all cracked skin conditions there is risk of bacteria infection which could lead to

atopic eczema.


Asteatotic Eczema

This form of eczema is associated with dry skin, which is usually caused by a lack of the body’s essential oil and usually effects older individuals.


Nummular Eczema

This form of eczema is characterized by itchy, circular or oval-shaped patches of affected skin and common for ages 50 and older


Eczematous Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis or eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, contact dermatitis, neurodermatitis and stasis dermatitis are the common types of eczematous dermatitis. the skin becomes red, swollen, and sore and can form blisters.


Seborrheic Dermatitis

This form of dermatitis is an inflammatory condition which usually effects oily areas where sebaceous glands are present. It is characterised by scaly, flaking patches or dandruff and can lead to weeping eruptions. It commonly effects babies who develop a symptom known as cradle cap.


Gravitational Eczema

This type of eczema usually effects the lower limbs of women in later life usually caused through poor circulation, varicose veins, blood clots or over weight. It presents as skin blisters, discolouration, thick scaly skin on the legs.


Autoeczematization Eczema

This type of eczema is usually a secondary response to another type of eczema of and infection. It presents as a rash, blisters, itching or pustules. It can occur anywhere on the body but most commonly begins on the legs. It can occur in children and adults, but it is most common in older people due to neglect of previous rashes.


Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes an abnormally high rate of keratinocyte cell division within the epidermis. This causes a build up of these cells on the skin surface which appear as whitish scales or plaques. It is not fully known the cause however according to the NHS website, T-cells which are part of our immune system mistake these cells for invaders, causing more cells to divide as well as more T-cells to fight these cells (Anon., 2018)


Elastotic skin

Elastotic skin, is an accumulation of abnormal elastin within the dermis of the skin. Usually as a result of prolonged sun exposure (photoaging). The skin appears as yellow and thickened with bumps or furrows.


Comedones

Comedones is usually due to excess sebum and keratinised cells which have blocked the hair follicle and are most common on the face, upper back and chest. They arrear as white spots and black heads.


Herpes Zoster/Shingles

This is a painful viral disease in which the virus attacks the sensory nerve endings. The infection lies dormant and is triggered when body defence is low. It appears as redness on the skin along the line of the affected nerves. Blisters begin to develop and form crusts leaving purplish-pink pigmentation. Symptoms are most commonly found on the chest and abdomen.


Lentigo

Is characterised by hyperpigmented areas of the skin which are slightly larger than freckles but ranges in size. Lentigo simples usually occurs in childhood. Actinic (solar) lentigines usually occur in middle age as a result exposure to UV radiation. It is most commonly found on the face, hands and shoulders.


Naevi

Naevi also known as a birthmark is a coloured skin markings that develops before or shortly after birth. Vascular (telangiectatic naevi) are a skin conditions which small or large areas of skin is pigmentation due to clusters of blood vessels which have dilated.


Pruritus

this condition is when the skin becomes itchy and becomes uncomfortable leading to scratching. It us usually a symptom of many skin diseases, systemic illnesses and psychological disorders or it can be caused by pregnancy, or tight clothing. The skin may appear normal, red, rough or bumpy. However, scratching can lead to infection.


Purpura

Purpura appears as purple spots usually 3-10mm in size on the skin. They are usually caused by trauma, internal bleeding as well as old age.


Rosacea

Rosacea is caused by an excessive sebum secretion combined with a chronic inflammatory condition resulting is the dilation of blood capillaries. The skin appears coarse with enlarged pores, inflamed cheeks and nose, along with occasional swelling. The appearance of a butterfly pattern is common due to the blood circulation slowing down in the dilated capillaries which creates a purplish appearance.


Seborrheic Warts or Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis is a harmless growth that appears on the skin usually caused by excessive exposure to Ultraviolet light or friction. They begin in the basal layer of the epidermis therefore the growth contains a mixture of keratin and melanin pigment which is what gives the growth its mole like appearance.


Telangiectasia

Telangiectasia is a condition in which the tiny blood vessels which are situated just beneath the skin become dilated and broken and appear on the skin as a pattern of tiny red thread like lines. They usually appear on fair skin on areas which have been exposed to the sun such as the face (mainly cheeks), neck and arms but they can appear anywhere. Telangiectasia can be inherited or caused through sun damage, excessive consumption of alcohol and hormones imbalance for example, pregnancy. They can also occur following and injury, certain medications and illnesses.


Verruca Filiformis

Verruca Filiformis also known as skin tags, are verrucas that appear as threads projecting from the skin. The growth on the skin may look similar to a wart however unlike warts, Verruca Filiformis are not contagious. They are a cluster of collagen fibres and other blood, nerve and fat cells and are surrounded by a thinned layer of keratin cells. They can develop with age and are thought to be associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV).


Leucoderma/Vitiligo

Vitiligo appears as patches of completely white skin which have lost their pigment or were never pigmented. Care must be taken when in UV light for people with this condition. It is an auto immune disease where the immune system fight against its own cells which make pigment causing white patches which lack pigment, and it is thought to be hereditary.


Xerosis

Xerosis is known as dry skin due to lack of moisture which can be caused by ageing, or it can results in premature ageing. It can be a secondary condition to an underlying health condition such as diabetes. Although it can also occur due to the use of harsh soaps, exposure, swimming in chlorinated water and other activities which can cause the skin to lose it natural oils.


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By Angela Blemmings

Company Director

EyeCandy Training Ltd


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