There is no question that the skin changes as seniors age, but there are steps you can take to help your loved one reduce the adverse effects of aging. Sometimes skin problems are the result of medications, but often concerns arise after a lifetime of bad habits and other issues that may occur in older adults. To make matters worse, older people take longer to heal than their younger counterparts.
Here are some common skin problems in the elderly and how to remedy the situation.
- Age Spots
When you think of aging skin, you may envision age or “liver” spots. These brown, flat spots are most often the result of spending years in the sun. Age spots are larger than freckles and appear where the skin is exposed to UVA and UVB sunlight – the hands, face, arms, feet, and back. Age spots are harmless, but some people consider them unattractive. A broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both types of ultraviolet rays can be effective in preventing additional age spots in the future.
Aging skin is often wrinkled due to environmental factors, family history and lifestyle choices like smoking. Exposure to UV sunlight over time can also cause wrinkles or creases in the skin. Skin becomes wrinkled when it loses elasticity and sags because of gravity. There are many skincare products on the market that claim to eliminate wrinkles, but the claims are often exaggerated. The best course of action is to consult with a dermatologist to diminish the appearance of wrinkles.
- Skin Tags
Small flesh-colored growths called skin tags are often found near the neck, eyelids, armpits, chest, and groin. While skin tags do not develop into a serious condition, they may become irritated depending on where they are located on the body. They can be removed in a simple procedure.
As people age they tend to bruise more readily than young people and the bruises can take a longer time to heal. Some medications can cause bruising, such as blood thinners, aspirin, and prednisone. Medical conditions that cause bruising include hepatitis and platelet disorders. If your loved one experiences bruising, speak to the doctor to find out the cause.
- Dry, Itchy Skin
Rough, scaly dry patches on the skin may appear on elbows, lower arms and lower legs. Dry skin can be caused by health issues like kidney disease or diabetes, and products like soap, perfume, and antiperspirants can make matters worse. Some medication can cause itchy skin. To remedy dry and/or itchy skin, your loved one should drink enough liquids, avoid dry air, manage stress, limit time in the sun and give up smoking. Moisturizers, humidifiers and cooler showers can help.
Skin cancer is common, and sunlight is the major cause. People who have fair skin who tend to freckle are at the greatest risk for skin cancer. Treatment advances allow doctors to cure skin cancer if it is detected early before it spreads. Basal Cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are two types of skin cancer that grow slowly and do not normally spread to other organs. Melanoma, the third type of skin cancer, is known to spread to other parts of the body, and it can cause death. Visit a dermatologist if your loved one has a new growth, a bleeding mole or a sore that refuses to heal. Larger growths and those that are asymmetrical or have irregular borders or color changes should be looked at by a doctor.
An In-Home Caregiver Can Help
An in-home caregiver can help your loved one stay on track with lifestyle choices and doctor visits that can lead to a longer and stronger life. Home Helpers of South Shore is owned and operated by a compassionate health professional with a strong understanding of the needs of aging seniors. Contact Home Helpers to help your aging loved one.
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