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Maintaining skin integrity in the aged: A systematic review

Author(s): Kottner J, Lichterfeld A, Blume-Peytavi U

Abstract

Ageing is associated with structural and functional changes of the skin that result in increased vulnerability. The aim of this systematic review is to synthesize empirical evidence about the efficacy and effectiveness of basic skin care interventions for maintaining skin integrity in the aged. The databases Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL (1990–2012), Scopus, SCI (February 2013) and reference lists were searched. Inclusion criteria were primary intervention studies using skin care products in physiologically aged skin (lower age limit 50 years). Study and sample characteristics, interventions and outcomes were extracted. The methodological quality was assessed and a level of evidence was assigned. From 1535 screened articles 188 were read in full text. From these, 33 articles were included reporting results on treating dry skin conditions, and preventing incontinence-associated dermatitis and superficial ulcerations. Most studies had lower levels of evidence of 3 or 4. Skin-cleansing products containing syndets or amphoteric surfactants compared with standard soap and water washing improved skin dryness and demonstrated skin-protecting effects. Moisturizers containing humectants consistently showed statistically significant improvements in skin dryness. Skin barrier products containing occlusives reduced the occurrence of skin injuries compared with standard or no treatment. Owing to methodological limitations the current evidence base for basic skin care in the aged is weak. Using low-irritating cleansing products and humectant- or occlusive-containing moisturizers seems to be the best strategy for maintaining the skin barrier function and integrity. We know little about the effects of cleansing regimens and about the benefits of moisturizers when compared with each other.

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