(Atrophia senilis; Atrophoderma senile)
The typical degeneration of old age is macular, pea- to bean-size and yellowish-brown in color. Through the lesion may be found anywhere, they are most common on the face, dorsum of the hands, genitalia and legs. Besides the color referred to, the skin may be wrinkled, dry with slight scaling, may have atrophied hairs of the lanugo type with all varieties of verruca and telangiectasis.
Etiology and Pathology. – These conditions are caused in quantitative atrophies by marked diminution of the dermal fat-cells, thinning of the corium and epidermis, increased pigmentation in the rete, shortening of the hair-follicles, dilation of the glands and a disappearance or hypertrophy of the blood vessels. Degenerative atrophy may assume fatty, amyloid, vitreous or granular characteristics.
Fig. 117 – Senile atrophy in a woman of eighty years, showing the exaggeration of the normal lines and a keratotic patch on the left cheek.
Prognosis and Treatment – When once established senile atrophy is incurable but if the proper hygienic measures are taken in time, its development may be often prevented or postponed. Massage, suction cups, galvanism, high frequency currents, bran, salt or radiant-heat baths, inunctions of oil such as olive, sweet almond or oleum telesphorus and a properly regulated diet are advised. Warty growths may be treated with ointments of sulphur (5 per cent.) or salicylic acid ( 1 to 4 per cent.), combined or singly, and should be watched because of their possible malignant degeneration. Indicated remedies are often important because of general conditions. Graphites, Nat. mur., Opium and Sulphur have proven efficacious.