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Senile Purpura

Introduction

  • The skin is constantly renewing itself. New cells are formed on the lower layer of skin which slowly move upward. By the time they reach the surface of the skin, these cells are dead and are removed daily.

  • With ageing, this process of cell renewal slows down. The “dead cell” layer remains longer on the surface of the skin giving the skin a dull look. This skin feels rough and scaly.

  • The supporting structures (collagen) and elasticity of the skin decreases with age. The skin sags and wrinkles appear.

  • How your skin ages throughout life is affected by several things including diet, exposure to the sun, lifestyle, genetic factors and personal habits, e.g. smoking. Obesity can also be a factor too.

  • The skin of an aged person is thinner and easily disrupted. Blood vessels, too, are easily disrupted, resulting in bruises called “senile purpura”.

  • Senile purpura is commonly seen on the forearms, hands and lower legs. Its presence does not indicate vitamin deficiency or a bleeding disorder. The aging skin also heals slowly following injury.

  • However senile purpura can also be caused by the overuse of blood thinner, such as aspirin and steroids.

  • It can be exacerbated by various other conditions, including diabetes and vascular diseases.

Sign and Symptoms

  • Senile purpura is dark purplish-red splotches that fade gradually, often leaving a yellow or brown stain. It may disappear completely or remain indefinitely.

  • The bruising presents itself generally on the forearms and top of the hands, often without any trauma having occurred.

Complications

  • Senile purpura is a mild condition and harmless with no serious complication.

  • However you should undergo assessment to rule out thrombocytopenia (lack of platelet), scurvy or connective tissue diseases.

  • Those on medications need to consult their doctors to evaluate their medications.

Treatment

  • There is no treatment for senile purpura, unless it has a definite cause eg drugs induced where some alterations can be made to the medications.

  • Explanation and reassurance may be the best treatment for most senile purpura.

  • While it will not necessarily reduce bruising, caring for the skin will make you feel more comfortable. Regular moisturization will avoid dry, tight skin, and similar types of skin-related discomfort.

  • When applying moisturizers and other skin care products, do it gently because the process may accidentally cause another bruise or bruises.

Prevention

  • The elderly require special skin care because their skin is thin and dry. Care must be taken to prevent the skin from becoming too dry.

  • Frequent baths and hot baths should be avoided.

  • Avoid soap or only use mild soap. Always apply moisturizer after bath.

Last Review : 20 June 2014
Writer : Dr. Sanidah binti Md. Ali
Reviewed : Dr. Radziah binti Jabir