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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2020 Oct 07

DOI: 10.23736/S0392-0488.20.06583-9


language: English

The Alzheimer patient from the dermatologist’s point of view


Dermatology Clinic, Department of Clinical-Surgical, Diagnostic and Pediatric Science, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo and University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by a cluster of signs and symptoms manifesting with difficulties in memory, language disturbances, psychological and psychiatric changes and difficulty in carrying out daily activities. Although it may seem to be far from a dermatologic competence, the ageing of populations in industrialized and developing countries has changed things making AD a multidisciplinary question. Indeed, this neurodegenerative disorder is not exclusively neurological, but rather may involve multiple tissues and organs. The abnormalities in metabolic and biochemical processes described in affected brains are also present in the skin and may condition specific dermatological manifestations. In fact, although a history of non-melanoma skin cancer is linked to a significantly reduced risk of developing AD, this is not so for melanoma. Several biological, social and environmental hypotheses can be advanced to explain these correlations. AD patients’ memory problems and the partial inability to express an informed consent, could make a simple tumour excision challenging for a dermatologic surgeon. Moreover, attention should also be paid to the possibility of pharmacological interactions with AD therapies and to surgery timing. Observational studies have provided evidence for a non-spurious correlation between bullous pemphigoid (BP) and dementia. The demonstration of neurological isoforms of both BP180 and BP230 in the central nervous system has provided partial explanations for these findings and raised the question as to whether AD patients should be given accurate screening for BP and vice versa. Some adverse skin reactions have been observed with AD drugs and although mainly localized others are diffuse. Importantly, some of these drugs are available for administration in a patch or systemic form. When dealing with bedridden patients, the skin examination should be as complete as possible, since ulcer location is not only influenced by pressure and paratonia but also by spasticity, conditioning wounds in atypical sites.

KEY WORDS: Skin cancer; Skin ulcers; Bullous pemphigoid; Dermatosurgery; Adverse drug reaction; Alzheimer’s disease

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