HomeHealthA Senior’s Guide to Healthy Skin

A Senior’s Guide to Healthy Skin

Your skin changes as you grow older. It grows thinner, drier, and less elastic. However, there are many simple things you can do to keep your skin looking and feeling as healthy as possible.

If you’re wondering why your skin is less supple than it used to be, there are many possible causes. That includes certain medical conditions and natural physical changes, like your glands slowing down. Lifestyle plays a part too, especially if you sunbathe or smoke cigarettes.

Learn how to care for your aging skin. Study this guide for keeping your skin healthy in your golden years.

Caring for Dry Skin

Xeroderma and xerosis are the medical terms for dry skin. Dry skin can make you uncomfortable and self-conscious and may cause infections if left untreated.

Try these tips to keep more moisture in your skin:

  1. Avoid hot water. Long hot baths dry out your skin. Try soaking briefly in warm water instead. Wear rubber gloves while hand washing dishes.

  2. Dry off gently. Older skin requires a light touch. Pat yourself dry with a soft towel and leave your skin a little damp. Use your fingers to wash instead of stiff brushes or sponges.

  3. Moisturize frequently. Apply moisturizer at least once a day, especially after bathing. If your current brands are inadequate, ask your doctor for recommendations. You may need a different formula, or you may want to use larger amounts.

  4. Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day. Your sense of thirst declines with age, so it may benefit you to create other reminders to help you stay on track.

  5. Humidify your home. Indoor heating and air conditioning dry the air. Run a humidifier to bring the relative humidity back to 30 to 50 percent.

  6. Avoid scratching. Try to keep your hands off of irritated skin to avoid infections. If you’re itchy, use cold compresses or shop for ointments at your local drug store.

Preventing Skin Cancer

It’s a myth that most sun damage occurs before the age of 18. You can reduce your risk of skin cancer even in your senior years. Regular screenings and self-examinations will also help you to receive prompt treatment and increase your odds of recovering from skin cancer.

Use these strategies:

  1. Seek shade. Just 10 minutes of sun can help you get the vitamin D your body needs for strong bones and immune functions. Otherwise limit your exposure and forget about tanning beds.
     
  2. Apply sunscreen. When you are outdoors for longer periods, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Give yourself a second helping if you swim or perspire. Protective clothing helps too.

  3. Inspect yourself. Most skin cancers appear after the age of 50. Perform self-examinations in front of a mirror at least once a month. Ask your doctor what screening schedule you need for your individual circumstances.

Other Tips for Senior Skin Care

Keep these helpful techniques in mind:

  1. Reduce wrinkles. Crow’s feet and laugh lines are harmless. If wrinkles and age spots make you uncomfortable, explore medical options. Many products advertised online or on TV are a waste of money and may even harm your skin.

  2. Eliminate irritations.  Make life easier for your epidermis. Wear natural fibers. Avoid fragrances and harsh chemicals as much as possible.

  3. Heal faster. The elderly bruise more easily, and injuries take longer to heal. Be extra careful about keeping wounds clean and properly dressed. Managing stress, eating a healthy diet, and getting adequate rest may speed up recovery as well.

  4. Ask your doctor. Skin issues can sometimes be a symptom of underlying conditions such as diabetes or arthritis. Talk with your doctor about your concerns, especially if you notice sudden changes in your skin.

Seniors have special skin care needs. The more you understand about the aging process, the more you can do to prevent cancer and infections and keep your skin in top shape.

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