Our bodies change as we age, and skin is no exception. Skin can become rough, itchy, and dry, leading to discomfort. Most people lose the elastic tissue in their skin, which can cause it to hang loosely. Perhaps most importantly, senior skin is very fragile – it is more easily bruised, more prone to sun damage, and it tears easily.
People may encounter any of the following experiences as they age:
- Dermatitis, or dry and itchy skin
- Skin infections, which can cause rashes, swelling, and abnormal warmth
- Senile purpura, or purple discoloration due to thin skin and blood vessel proximity to the surface
- Skin growths, which are caused by sun and the ageing process
It is imperative to change skincare strategies and routines as we age. Whether to help prevent and catch skin cancer or to simply mitigate fine lines and wrinkles, there are a few skincare tricks all seniors should know.
First, seniors should choose skincare products without artificial ingredients and fragrance. These chemicals can damage the skin and cause irritation. The more natural the product, the less irritation it will cause. Look for products with coconut oil, tea tree oil, rose water, and apple cider vinegar.
Next, seniors should be aware of their showering and bathing habits. Excessive bathing can cause skin irritation. Hot water and steam can severely dehydrate skin, which can lead to increased strain and damage. When you do wash, try to avoid using very hot water whenever possible. If you have very sensitive skin, use a soft cloth to wash your body.
Seniors should also incorporate moisturizers into their daily skincare routine. Skin hydration is key to preventing age-related damage. Wearing moisturizer on the most delicate skin areas, like the face, can improve longevity and overall appearance. Using natural moisturizers, like those with coconut oil, can also help reduce or treat dermatitis. If you have excessively dry skin, consider buying a humidifier for your home. Keeping indoor humidity between 45 and 60 percent can help maintain skin health.
Seniors should also wear sunscreen every day. Senior skin is more susceptible to sun damage. Because the skin is thin and fragile, damage can occur with even slight exposure. Luckily, many moisturizers now incorporate sun protection into their formulas. Look for broad spectrum and mineral sunscreen, which includes zinc, when setting out to make a purchase. If you spend a lot of time outside, try to stay in the shade, and wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun.
Finally, seniors should see a dermatologist regularly for skin cancer exams. An annual skin cancer screening is typically enough to track the emergence of new growths.
But what happens if you have an unfamiliar skincare experience, like a new mole or a severe sunburn? It can be difficult to know the difference between what is an emergency and what might require a simple visit to the doctor’s office. If you have a medical alert system, talking to a call center operator can help you determine the best course of action to help you in the moment. You might not need emergency care or maybe only urgent care.