Protecting Aging Skin: The Basics
It’s no secret that our skin changes as we age. With a little attention to your skincare routine, you can support these naturally occurring changes to keep your skin healthy, strong, and beautiful.
Common Skin Changes
Let’s explore some common skin changes that occur as we journey through the later stages of life. Although most of these changes are normal, understanding them will empower us to take skin care seriously.
Drier Skin: Aging often brings a decrease in natural skin hydration, resulting in drier and less supple skin.
Thinner and Paper-like Texture: The thinning of our skin can make it more fragile, delicate, and susceptible to damage.
Itchy Sensations: As our skin ages, it may become more prone to itchiness and discomfort.
More Age Spots, Wrinkles, and Creases: The visible signs of aging may become more prominent.
Blotchiness: Uneven skin tone and blotchiness can occur due to various factors, including sun exposure and age-related changes.
Increased Sensitivity: Aging skin tends to become more easily irritated and reactive to certain skincare products or environmental factors.
Higher Risk of Skin Infections: Our aging skin becomes more susceptible to infections, making proper hygiene and care essential.
Easy Bruising: Due to thinning skin and decreased collagen production, older adults may notice an increased tendency to bruise.
Reduced Sweat Production: Aging skin tends to produce less sweat, impacting the body’s natural cooling mechanism.
Slower Healing: Wounds, scratches, and cuts may take longer to heal, requiring extra attention and care.
Now that we understand the changes our skin undergoes as we age, let’s explore some simple modifications we can make to our skincare routine to ensure our skin’s optimal health and radiance.
Gentle Cleansing: Switch from harsh chemical exfoliants to creamy, fragrance-free cleansers that are more gentle and nourishing for mature skin.
Warm Water: When cleansing your skin, opt for warm water instead of hot water. Hot water can strip away natural oils as well as exacerbate dryness.
Soft Cloth: Choose a soft cloth instead of abrasive brushes or to clean your skin gently and avoid unnecessary friction.
Shortened Bath or Shower Time: Limit your bathing or showering time to around 10 minutes to prevent excessive drying of the skin.
Pat Dry: Pat your skin dry gently, allowing some moisture to remain on the skin’s surface.
Moisturize: Apply a creamy, fragrance-free moisturizer designed for dry skin immediately after bathing, while your skin is still damp. Reapply as needed throughout the day to maintain hydration.
Avoid the sun during the middle of the day, when the sun’s rays are strongest. This is generally between 10am and 4pm. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, even on cloudy days the sun’s rays can damage your skin. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, ears, lips, and hands.
If you’re outside, wear sunglasses that block 99% of UVA and UVB rays. Eye damage from the sun can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration later in life. Seek shade when you are outdoors. If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, find a shady spot to sit or lie down.
Be aware of the signs of skin cancer. If you notice any new or changing moles, or if you have any other skin concerns, see a dermatologist right away. By taking these steps, you can help to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
See A Dermatologist
For older adults, it is important to see a dermatologist regularly for skin checks and to discuss any skin problems that you may be experiencing. Early detection and treatment of skin problems can help to improve your quality of life and prevent serious complications. Here are some of the reasons why it is important to see a dermatologist regularly.
To detect skin cancer early: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and it is especially common in older adults. A dermatologist can perform a thorough skin exam and look for any suspicious moles or lesions. If they find anything that looks suspicious, they can biopsy it to determine if it is cancerous.
To treat dry skin: Dry skin is a common problem in older adults, and it can be very uncomfortable. A dermatologist can recommend products and treatments to help keep skin hydrated and healthy.
To manage skin conditions: Eczema and psoriasis are chronic skin conditions that can cause itching, redness, and scaling. A dermatologist can help to manage these conditions with medications and certain lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.
Here are some additional tips for older adults who are concerned about their skin health:
- Get regular skin checks from a dermatologist. This is especially important if you have a history of skin cancer or if you have fair skin.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to keep your skin looking and feeling its best.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps to keep your skin plump and healthy.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise can help to improve circulation and reduce stress, both of which can contribute to healthy skin.
- Quit smoking. Smoking damages your skin and increases your risk of skin cancer.
By implementing these easy adjustments to your routine, you can nourish and protect aging skin effectively. Remember, embracing your natural beauty and celebrating the wisdom that comes with age is the key to radiating confidence and vitality. Embrace your golden years with grace, and let your inner beauty shine through your well-cared-for skin.
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