Age-Associated Skin Conditions and Diseases: Current Perspectives and Future Options

Gerontologist. 2016 Apr:56 Suppl 2:S230-42. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnw003.


The International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS), a global, not-for-profit organization representing 157 dermatological societies worldwide, has identified the consequences of skin aging as one of the most important grand challenges in global skin health. Reduced functional capacity and increased susceptibility of the skin with development of dermatoses such as dry skin, itching, ulcers, dyspigmentation, wrinkles, fungal infections, as well as benign and malignant tumors are the most common skin conditions in aged populations worldwide. Environmental (e.g., pollution) and lifestyle factors (e.g., smoking, sunbed use) negatively affect skin health. In turn altered appearance, dry skin, chronic wounds, and other conditions decrease general health and reduce the likelihood for healthy and active aging. Preventive skin care includes primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions. Continuous sun protection from early childhood onward is most important, to avoid extrinsic skin damage and skin cancer. Exposure to irritants, allergens, or other molecules damaging the skin must be avoided or reduced to a minimum. Public health approaches are needed to implement preventive and basic skin care worldwide to reach high numbers of dermatological patients and care receivers. Education of primary caregivers and implementation of community dermatology are successful strategies in resource-poor countries. Besides specialist physicians, nurses and other health care professionals play important roles in preventing and managing age-related skin conditions in developing as well as in developed countries. Healthy skin across the life course leads to better mental and emotional health, positive impact on social engagement, and healthier, more active, and productive lives.

Keywords: Dermatology; Developing countries; Epidemiology; Public health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Skin Aging*
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology*