PERSONAL CARE LEARNING CENTER
How Aging Affects Skin
Your skin changes with age. It no longer as plump or smooth as it once was because it becomes thinner and loses fat. Your veins and bones can also be seen more easily. Scratches, cuts, or bumps can take longer to heal. Years of sun tanning or being out in the sunlight for a long time may lead to wrinkles, dryness, age spots, and even cancer. Regardless of these affects, there are things you can do to protect your skin and to make it feel and look better.
Elderly individuals may bruise more easily than younger individuals and it can take longer for the bruises to heal. Some medicines or illnesses may also cause bruising. See your doctor if you see bruises and you don't know how you got them, especially on parts of your body usually covered by clothing.
Over time, skin begins to wrinkle and things in the environment, like ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun, make the skin less elastic. Gravity can cause skin to sag and wrinkle. Certain habits can also wrinkle the skin. Some of these habits are easier to change than others. You may not be able to change your facial expressions, but you can quit smoking.
A lot of claims are made about how to make wrinkles go away. Not all of them work. Some can be painful or even dangerous, and many must be done by a doctor. Talk with a doctor specially trained in skin problems (a dermatologist) or your regular doctor if you are worried about wrinkles.
Age Spots and Skin Tags
Age spots, also known as "liver spots," are flat, brown spots often caused by years in the sun. They are bigger than freckles, and typically show up on areas like the face, hands, arms, back, and feet. Age spots are harmless, but if they bother you, talk to a dermatologist about removing them. Sunscreen can help prevent sun damage.
Skin tags are small, usually flesh-colored growths of skin that have a raised surface. They are a common occurrence as people age, especially for women. They are typically found on the eyelids, neck, and body folds such as the arm pit, chest, and groin. Skin tags are harmless, but they can become irritated and can be removed them if they bother you.
Dry Skin and Itching
Many senior individuals suffer from dry skin, often on their lower legs, elbows, and lower arms. Dry skin feels rough and scaly and can be flaky. There are many possible reasons for dry skin, such as:
- not drinking enough liquids
- staying out in the sun
- being in very dry air
- feeling stress
- losing sweat and oil glands (common with age)
Dry skin also can be caused by health problems, such as diabetes or kidney disease. Using too much soap, antiperspirant, or perfume and taking hot baths will make dry skin worse.
Due to thinner skin of seniors, scratching can cause bleeding that may lead to infection. Some medicines can also make the skin itchier.
Help for Dry Skin
Some people find that a humidifier (an appliance that adds moisture to a room) helps. Try taking fewer baths and using mil/gentle soap or soap with moisturizers to help your dry skin. Warm water is less drying than hot water. Don't add bath oil to your water -- it will make the tub too slippery. Moisturizers like lotions , creams, or ointments can soothe dry, itchy skin. They should be used every day. There are many different types of moisturizers from basic every day lotion such as Cetaphil® Skin Lotion to more advanced lotions such as Aquaphor® Healing Cream and Renew™ Skin Repair Cream . Skin protectants and barrier creams are also available for additional skin protection.
Source: National Institute on Aging
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