Owners' Blog

Problems with Dry Skin in Seniors

By Greg and Hilary Eldridge

Everyone has struggled with dry skin at some point, but seniors can be especially sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. This leaves them with itchy, dry skin that can be very uncomfortable and may even lead to other skin conditions. When it’s time to take care of an aging loved one, it’s important to make sure that the skin is not overlooked.

The skin is the body’s largest organ and the effect of dry skin on elderly loved ones really just depends on the severity and length of time it is present. The longer a senior suffers with dry skin, the more likely it is that they could develop complications. For this reason, it is helpful for family caregivers and senior care assistants to be aware of how elderly skin works and how to take care of it to prevent dry skin.

What Causes Dry Skin in the Elderly?

Dry skin is very common in seniors. Sometimes, dry skin in seniors is just a mild discomfort for a short-term duration that lasts only a few weeks. On the other hand, there are cases of dry skin that can also become a chronic problem for some elderly people. This type of severe, long-term dryness can create additional health problems like eczema, rashes, irritation from scratching and sores.

The causes of dry skin in seniors is due to age. In later years, the skin loses oil glands and also becomes thinner. This combination makes it harder for the skin to hold in moisture. Other factors can contribute to extremely dry skin, like hot water baths, cheap soap, dry air, certain prescription medications and sun exposure. Dry skin can also be a symptoms of certain conditions like liver disease, diabetes or kidney disease.

Because the majority of elderly people suffer from dry and itchy skin, it is often minimized as something that is a normal part of aging and should just be lived with. However, even though dry skin isn’t really a serious condition, it can certainly affect an elderly person’s quality of life.

What To Do for Dry Skin Relief

Proper skin care maintenance will help elderly loved ones combat dry skin and family caregivers and senior care assistants are a key part in the plan. A good moisturizing cream and anti-itch ointment should be the first step. The moisturizer should be applied to the whole body after a warm or lukewarm bath or shower to lock in the moisture.

Other tips for dealing with dry skin include putting in a humidifier in the bedroom or main room to add moisture to the air. Drinking plenty of water can also help the skin perform better. Also, seniors can avoid wearing tighter clothes with rough fabrics that may exacerbate the dry skin condition.

Dry skin is not usually serious but it can lead to other issues in seniors besides discomfort. If left untreated, dry skin could develop tiny cracks which can cause more moisture to be lost from the skin. Bacteria and other irritants can also enter the skin and possibly cause infections. Good skin care is definitely an important part of hygiene and grooming for elderly loved ones to prevent complications.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Johns Creek, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.