We’re more likely to experience certain health problems as we age, and our skin might not be something we think of as becoming problematic. In fact, many things can affect our skin during our lifetime, and it’s important to take good care of skin because it’s the largest organ of the body. Although many types of skin conditions can occur at any age, there are some that are more likely to occur later in life. Here are five common skin conditions that affect the elderly and how they can be prevented.
Wrinkles on the skin are a natural part of the aging process because the skin loses flexibility and elasticity. However, many other factors can contribute to more wrinkles and getting them sooner. Smoking and excessive sun exposure both break down the collagen in the skin, which is what gives it its elasticity.
Collagen supplements (found in both pill and powder form) can help slow down or even prevent the development of wrinkles. A good skincare routine that includes hyaluronic acid and retinoids are also great ways to take care of your skin and prevent wrinkles. You should also make an effort to use sunscreen often, eat a nutritious diet, and stop or don’t start smoking.
#2: Skin Cancer
Each year, one million Americans develop skin cancer before the age of 65. The main cause of skin cancer is from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources of light, such as those from tanning beds. Again, as we age our skin loses elasticity and becomes more sensitive to a lot of things— including the sun.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to limit your use of tanning beds and your exposure to the sun. You should always wear sunscreen— especially on your face— even if you’re not going to the beach or traveling to a warmer climate. Some forms of skin cancer can be genetic, so it’s also important to know your family history and be aware of the signs of skin cancer.
#3: Dry and Itchy Skin
Not only does skin lose elasticity, but it also produces less oil as we age. This causes dry and itchy skin, which isn’t life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable. A good moisturizer can be helpful in replenishing dry skin. Keep in mind that dry and itchy skin can be a symptom of an underlying health issue (such as diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and even skin cancer), so it’s important to get regular checkups.
There are other skin conditions whose symptoms include dry and itchy skin. These conditions aren’t necessarily associated with older age, but they can occur in older adults. Examples of these skin conditions include:
- Athlete’s foot
- Contact dermatitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
#4: Bed Sores
Also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bed sores develop when a person sits or lies down for an extended period of time. Diabetics are at a higher risk of developing bed sores because of poorer circulation. Patients in assisted living facilities who are victims of neglect are also at a greater risk of developing bed sores. This is a form of elder abuse, so victims and their families should seek information on how nursing home lawyers can help.
Bedsores can be prevented by moving frequently. For diabetics this means regular physical activity, and for nursing home patients this means having reliable doctors and staff members who are aware of the dangers of bed sores.
#5: Age Spots
Age spots, sometimes called liver spots, are brown patches that are usually found on the hands, face, and other parts of the body that are regularly exposed to the sun. Because of this, exposure to the sun is the most common cause of age spots. You’re also more likely to develop them after the age of 40.
Like dry and itchy skin, age spots don’t cause any health problems. Preventing age spots looks the same as preventing skin cancer: limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen often. It also doesn’t hurt to have a good skincare routine— which should also include sunscreen as a final step.
Bottom line, taking good care of your skin will help prevent the majority of these skin conditions that are more common in older age. As for bed sores, the best form of prevention is eating healthy and exercising regularly. Taking good care of your overall health will have a positive impact on your skin.