As we age, the body’s largest organ known as the epidermis or skin experiences changes.
Age-related skin changes not only include the loss of collagen that leads to wrinkles, but also the decreased production of oils by our glands. Dry skin is a common problem for seniors, affecting 75% of the population over age 65 especially during Winter months or in low-humidity settings.
Rough or peeling skin is often accomplished by uncomfortable, distressing itchiness that may affect a senior’s sleep, mood, or be a sign of a chronic condition. Because the skin becomes drier and less elastic with age, it cracks and tears more easily rendering seniors vulnerable to debilitating skin infections such as bed sores.
How can dry skin be treated?
Here a few tips for treating dry skin in the elderly:
- Lubricate the skin daily to soothe pain and reduce water loss. Use non-scented, oil-based moisturizers. Avoid alcohol-based solutions that sap out moisture from the skin.
- Bathe the person every other day rather than daily and limit baths/showers to 5-10 minutes
- Use lukewarm water rather than hot water
- Use a soft wash cloth for bathing rather than a scratchy loofah or sponge
- Pat, don’t rub, skin dry after bathing
- Dress in loose-fitting, cotton clothing rather than tight, synthetic fabrics
- Make sure the person consumes plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated
- Use a humidifier in the home to add moisture to the air. If possible and practical, lower the thermostat. Cooler air is less dry.
Do you have skin care tips for seniors or advice on managing dry skin in the elderly?