Skin Care Tips for the Elderly
As we age, our skin loses the firmness, clarity, elasticity and resiliency it had in our youth. While much of these changes are inevitable, there are steps seniors can take to help mitigate the effect the aging process has on their skin. Here, the elder care providers at Avila Home Care discuss some of the skin care challenges seniors may face and best practices for managing these issues.
Skin Care Challenge: Dry and Itchy Skin
The body’s natural oil production, which helps to keep skin moisturized, begins to decrease as we grow older. Seniors also commonly face dry or itchy skin due to other health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, some medications, sun exposure, a dry climate, smoking or not drinking enough liquids. Hot baths or showers, perfumes, colognes or harsh soaps may also exacerbate feelings of dry, itchy skin.
There are many ways for seniors to prevent dry, itchy skin, whether by making internal or external changes. Seniors should focus on drinking eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day, which will help keep their body and skin hydrated. Foods containing healthy fats, such as fatty fish, olive oil, avocadoes, walnuts and almonds can also help skin look and feel more hydrated. Humidifiers can be used in living spaces to increase the humidity of the air, which will help prevent skin from drying out and becoming itchy. When choosing moisturizing creams or lotions, seniors should choose formulas made with shea butter, olive oil, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which will help to seal in moisture and increase the skin’s ability to stay hydrated.
Skin Care Challenge: Wrinkles
There are many factors that affect the skin’s elasticity and ability to develop wrinkles, including genetics, time, gravity, sun damage and more. While wrinkles are not a dangerous or painful issue, some seniors may find them to be aesthetically displeasing. A certified dermatologist may be able to provide surgical or cosmetic solutions including retinol treatments, Botox, lifts or fillers to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Skin Care Challenge: Age Spots and Skin Tags
Age spots often come from years of UV damage from time spent in the sun. These spots are normally flat and brown, and develop on places that get frequent sun exposure, including the face, hands, back, feet and arms. Age spots may be able to be lightened or removed with topical products or laser treatments, and they can be prevented by applying a minimum of SPF 15 sunscreen to areas exposed to the sun and reapplying every two hours.
Skin tags are small, flesh-colored skin growths with a raised surface. Both men and women often develop skin tags as they age, although women tend to develop them more frequently. They can often be found on areas where the skin naturally folds, including the eyelids, neck, groin, armpits and chest. While harmless, skin tags may become irritated, and seniors may wish to speak to a dermatologist about having them removed.
Skin Care Challenge: Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and while it can affect individuals of all ages, seniors are one of the most represented age groups in skin cancer cases. Skin cancer can affect anyone of any race and ethnicity. UV exposure, whether from the sun or from tanning beds, can cause skin cancer to develop. There are two general categories of skin cancer: carcinomas and melanomas. Carcinomas are typically slower to grow and rarely spread to other parts of the body, making them less likely to be fatal. Melanomas, however, can grow rapidly and spread to other organs, making them particularly deadly. Your primary care physician, or a dermatologist, can check your skin to see if skin cancer may be developing. Always speak to a medical professional if you find a sore that doesn’t heal, new moles or growths—particularly ones that are multiple colors, large and irregular in shape—or moles that bleed.
To prevent skin cancer, limit sun exposure during the hottest part of the day, which is between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Wear sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, and loose, light clothing that covers your arms and legs. As mentioned above, seniors should also wear a minimum of SPF 15 sunscreen and reapply every two hours or less, especially when swimming or sweating.
Make Healthy Skin Choices with the Help of a Home Care Provider at Avila Home Care
It is never too late to make healthy choices that can benefit the look, feel and health of our skin. The elder care providers at Avila Home Care can help seniors to make these beneficial choices, whether by driving seniors to dermatological appointments, helping seniors apply sunscreen, assisting seniors in choosing protective clothing or cooking nutritious foods that boost the health and vitality of senior’s skin. To learn more about the services our caregivers provide, contact Avila Home Care today!
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