Tips for protecting senior skin from damage

As we prepare to welcome the fall and winter months, this is a good time to look at protecting older residents’ skin for the cooler weather. Skin transforms as people age. It becomes thinner and loses fat and elasticity. Veins and bones can be seen easily and injuries take longer to heal. Medications and chronic health conditions can also make the skin more vulnerable to bruising and bleeding. Cold outside air and heated indoor air can dry out skin that is already delicate. This can contribute to dryness problems and lead to serious problems.

Dryness is one of the most common skin conditions older people suffer. As the body ages, blood vessels decrease in number and glands become less active. Respectively, this reduces blood circulation in the skin and oil production is decreased. As a result, older skin becomes drier. Known as xerosis, dry skin is characterized by a rough texture, flakiness, and a dull appearance. As dryness progresses, fine cracks can form in the skin, leaving it vulnerable to infection. Dry skin can also cause discomfort and itching which can lead to scratching, further exacerbating the opportunity for infection. Dry skin can also be caused by chronic health problems, such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Here are some ways to help protect older skin:

1. Bathing is important for hygiene and providing a sense of freshness. However, daily bathing can wreak havoc on older skin, washing away oils and sapping moisture. Bathing every other day is less harsh on the skin. When bathing an older person, using hot water and harsh, heavily perfumed soaps can promote dryness. It’s better to use warm water and mild soaps that are lightly scented or have no scent at all. After bathing, the skin should be gently patted dry with a clean towel to reduce friction.

2. Moisture is a vital part of maintaining skin health. Daily application of moisturizers like thick lotions, ointments, and creams immediately after bathing adds oils and helps retain moisture. Moisturizers with oils like olive, shea butter, and jojoba also help smooth and soften dry skin. Other ingredients that help soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.

3. Lip protection is also important during the cooler months. Dry, chapped lips can be uncomfortable and lead to cracking and bleeding. A lip balm with oils or other skin protectants can help retain moisture and keep lips healthy.

4. Hydration supports overall health as well as keeping skin in good condition. Not drinking enough liquids, especially water, contributes to dry skin and could lead to more serious health problems such as dehydration. With age, some people may lose their sense of thirst. Regularly assess all residents to determine who is at risk for unintended dehydration. It’s also important to encourage consuming liquids throughout the day, not just during meal times. Throughout the facility, make water and other beverages available and within easy reach, so residents can easily hydrate.

Turenne PharMedCo Medical Supply Services provides quality soaps, body washes, ointments, creams and lotions for all your residents’ skincare needs. To learn more about how you can protect their skin, call 1-866-710-7626.


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