Skin care for aged adults is an important issue and November is a great time to discuss this topic. That’s because November is always designated as National Healthy Skin Month.
National Healthy Skin Month is sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology. You may not realize it, but our skin reveals a lot about our overall health. Therefore, it’s important to know what it takes to keep our skin healthy as well as how to prevent common skin problems.
It’s important for all of us, especially senior citizens to check our skin and prevent skin cancer.
Skin Care: Specific Issues For Seniors
Senior citizens have specific skin care issues unlike younger age groups. Learning what they are, will help them recognize symptoms and treat any issue immediately.
Skin problems are very common among the elderly. Some are considered a normal part of aging, while others may indicate serious health problems. Look out for signs and symptoms of the following five skin conditions that can occur in seniors. Be proactive and ensure that your loved one gets prompt medical help.
Skin Care: What To Look For in Seniors
Seniors, in particular can suffer from dry skin. It’s a very common problem for them. Indeed, it affects 75 per cent of seniors, aged 65 and older.
This happens due to age-related loss of oil and sweat glands. Dry, scaly skin can be very itchy, which can trigger lots of scratching and picking, thereby increasing their risk of getting a skin infection. Severely dry skin also becomes cracked and very painful.
Here a few things you can do to avoid this problem:
- Use a gentle cleansing soap that contains a moisturizer or that is specially formulated for dry skin.
- Moisturize with lotion, ointment or cream every day.
- Avoid using very hot water when bathing and washing one’s face and hands as this can dry out the skin.
- Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing, rather than polyester or other synthetic fabrics and tight-fitting items.
- Use a soft washcloth for bathing and showering, rather than loofahs or products that are abrasive.
- Use humidifiers and vaporizers to add moisture to the senior’s living environment, especially in dry climates and during winter.
Skin cancer begins in the cells that make up the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. It often develops due to sun exposure and sun damage. There are 3 types of skin cancer that typically impact older people:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Regular self-exams and skin checks conducted by a dermatologist are crucial for catching skin cancer early on. Here are some warning signs to look for:
- Changes in the appearance of a mole, including the size, shape and color
- Moles with irregular edges or borders
- More than one color in a mole
- An asymmetrical mole (e.g. if the mole is divided in half, the 2 halves are different in size or shape)
- Moles that itch, ooze or bleed
- Ulcerations (holes that form in the skin when the top layer of cells breaks down and the underlying tissue shows through)
- Sores that do not heal
A changing mole or new skin growth requires evaluation by a dermatologist. If skin cancer is a concern, then the doctor will perform a biopsy and create a treatment plan if needed.