Age-related changes occur in the function and basic structure of the skin and mucosa. With aging, the skin becomes drier, with more tendency to crack. It also becomes thinner, more fragile, and less resistant to infection. Loss of elasticity leaves it more susceptible to injury, while its ability to repair itself diminishes. Skin aging results in less surface sensory perception, thus, increasing the risk of injuries like pressure ulcers. Estrogen deficiencies brought on by menopause can accelerate the degenerative changes associated with aging. In older individuals suffering from incontinence, occlusion, and exposure to moisture, urine and fecal material can result in a cycle of skin damage resulting in incontinence-associated dermatitis. This chapter reviews age-related changes that occur in the skin and mucosa and the effects of menopause and incontinence on these tissues.
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