I am 72 years old but my skin itches so much, especially at night. Because I cannot help but scratch the itch, my skin is now covered with scars. I keep taking prednisolone to no avail. Does old age cause allergies, because I never had itching until last year? Basil Mutenda Senior
Dear Basil, itching of the skin in the elderly may be due to the usual causes of itching including skin eczema, reaction to foods or drugs, among others. That said, itching skin is a common problem among the elderly due to dryness resulting from loss of water skin oil glands responsible for keeping the skin soft and moist.
Rarely, dry, itchy skin may be a sign of diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease or an underactive thyroid gland. That said, a number of older people may fail to keep themselves clean resulting in a dirty itchy skin apart from being invaded by lice and other parasites.
Even if you never used to have an allergy you can have skin reactions to substances coming in contact with the skin or the type of soaps or detergents used to wash night pyjamas or bedding, which may need checking out. Also, pay close attention to drugs and foods you are taking.
Meanwhile, take a lot of fluids, clean up, use moisturising creams and deworm. Also, parasites such as lice or bed bugs have to be eliminated. If these measures fail, please visit your doctor or a skin specialist.