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Advanced aging skin and itch: addressing an unmet need


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sarina Elmariah, MD, PhD, Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cutaneous Biology Research Center, 149 Thirteenth Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA, or email:


Itch is the most common skin disorder in the elderly and frequently diminishes quality of life in this population. The high prevalence of pruritus in elderly patients is attributed in part to the decline in the normal physiology of the advanced aging skin, and reflects poor hydration, impaired skin barrier, and altered neural function, all ultimately contributing to inflammation and pruritus. As the elderly population continues to grow, practitioners need to be aware of how to evaluate and manage pruritus, recognizing the common conditions contributing to itch in elderly patients as well as the challenges of treatment in this group. Ultimately, management of pruritus will require an individually tailored approach that is guided by a patient's general health, severity of symptoms, and the potential adverse effects of itch therapies.