No matter what kind of “youthfulness” common skin creams and lotions may promise, San Diego area residents who are seniors or perhaps receiving home health care aren’t going to get their skin back to how it was when they were in their 20s.
But that still doesn’t mean that they should stop taking care of their body’s largest organ (the skin!) especially as summer approaches. The team at Accredited Home Care is always happy to encourage people of any age to focus on the condition of their skin, not just for cosmetic reasons but for their overall physical health. These precautions are especially critical for many seniors, who are at higher risks for skin diseases or related health conditions, simply because of their age.
The National Institute on Aging has found that as the body gets older, seniors especially will notice their skin becoming thinner and any injuries taking longer to heal. This process also includes a gradual loss of fat in our skin. It’s also common for skin to start to lose some of its plumpness, which will allow bones and veins to be more noticeable.
Seniors also need to be aware of possible consequences from poor skin earlier in their life. This can include severe sunburns, frequent tans, regular bruising, scarring or other trauma can all take a toll on one’s skin, and increase the risk of everything from increased dryness to age spots to skin cancers.
What to look for
The changing skin can become more transparent and rough which leads to the appearance of things like spots or skin tags. It can become less elastic, hang more loosely and become itchy or rough.
The lack of padding can also increase the possibility of injury and bruising. At the same time, blood vessels in the skin can become more fragile which further the potential of bruising.
When bruising or other trauma does occur, it can take up to four times as long to heal, according to MedlinePlus.
In some cases, a large bruise from a small impact is worth checking out. It could lead to the detection of something like a melanoma, a severe type of skin cancer.
Under-the-skin injuries can sometimes lead to ulcers.
The increasing thinness of skin can make it difficult to regulate temperature and require the need for more insulation, like a coat or sweater. Added to this is a decrease in the amount of sweat and oil produced, which can further skew the ability to stay hot or cold.
Overall, MedlinePlus said 90 percent of older people have some type of skin disorder, so it’s difficult to separate routine changes due to aging from skin changes due to a specific health condition.
Regular visits to a health care provider and even a dermatologist can help people stay on top of the condition of their skin, especially if someone is seeing increased amounts of bruising, skin tags, age spots or other damage.
Health and skin experts uniformly agree that further unprotected exposure to the sun can make things worse. Though sunlight can include healthy amounts of Vitamin D, dangerous ultraviolet radiation can also continue to weaken the already vulnerable skin.
May is a good opportunity to learn more and start practicing healthy habits with regards to skin care and protecting better against damages from sunlight, including sunscreen and protective clothing and a hat when outdoors.
It’s Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, when people should take steps to educate themselves and their communities about the value of better skin care, visit dermatologists and even look for health events.
May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month, organized by the American Academy of Dermatology. People are encouraged to “Be Skin Cancer Heroes” by taking steps to prevent skin cancer in themselves and others around them by trying to detect it early enough when it’s more likely to respond to treatment.
This promotion includes materials that can help people spot suspicious moles and other skin problems as well as select the best sunscreen for age, skin type, and sun condition.
Even better habits such as staying hydrated and having good nutrition can help reduce the risk of skin injury.
Home health care can help
Because skin diseases and skin-related health conditions are increasingly common as people age, a home health care professional can help clients regularly assess their skin’s current condition. This can include looking at and measuring spots, tags, or moles to see if any of them have recently changed shape, size or color. Noticeable changes in an area of skin in a short amount of time could indicate something harmless or something especially harmful like a melanoma.
That’s why it would be a useful time for the client with these questions or suspicious skin conditions to visit a primary provider or a dermatologist for further evaluation.
Representatives from Accredited Home Care can provide advice beyond “go to the doctor,” including the importance of using lotions and other moisturizers that can promote healing while avoiding soaps that can dry out skin.