Dry Skin Care for Seniors
Winter weather is not your skin's best friend. Plus, after the age of 60 or so, skin dryness is a common problem. Itchy, scratchy, flaky, or peeling skin is likely to be the result of dryness. These symptoms differ from redness, swelling, painful or warm areas on your skin that might mean something more serious, such as an infection. If you have these last symptoms, consult your physician. However, if your symptoms are mild, here are some ways to help your skin be less dry and more healthy.
Use lotions to soothe your skin. Go for the non-scented ones that are less likely to irritate from the added perfumes (check the label of any lotion if you are allergic to lanolin). Avoid alcohol-based lotions that can sap additional moisture from your skin. Try oil-based cosmetics meant for mature skin, not those prepared for teenagers who need astringents for oiliness. Place lotion containers near any sink so you can apply lotion after each time you wash your hands. Some experts say to apply lotions when your skin is still moist instead of drying your hands thoroughly beforehand. Try to apply lotions to your skin within 3 minutes of bathing or washing for maximum prevention of dryness. If you suffer from very dry skin and want to be sure the lotion you are using is thick enough to help, turn the container over and see if it drips or runs out. If so, it is likely not going to provide you the protection you need. Thicker moisturizers and moisture barriers are your best bet, including petroleum jelly.
Avoid Hot Water
Skip hot showers or baths. When you bathe, use extra moisturizing products. In general, emollient preparations lubricate and moisturize the skin, counteracting dryness and itching. When using emollient preparations follow these precautions:
1.Avoid contact with eyes, flush with clear water if this happens;
2.Take care to avoid slipping in the shower or when getting in or out of the tub;
3.Do not use on areas you might believe to be infected or inflamed.
Wash your skin with rich soap. If your skin is very dry, you need not bathe or shower every day. Try sponge baths between showers instead. One exception to this rule--always shower or bathe after swimming or enjoying a spa that is treated with chlorinated water. Finally, pat, don't rub, your skin dry after bathing.
Pay attention to nutrition so your skin has the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Since 72 percent of skin weight is due to water, experts recommend drinking lots of water to retain the skin's integrity.
Pay Attention to Your Home
Keep your bedding and house clean in ways that help your skin. Believe it or not, home dust mites have been found to irritate skin, making irritated skin harder to heal. Washing your sheets at least weekly and vacuuming carpets frequently can reduce this problem. When you clean, wear gloves to protect your hands. Don't use excessively hot water, and remove any chlorinated cleanser powder from your hands as soon as you can if it contacts your skin. Chlorine irritates dry skin. In general, in very dry climates or in the winter months when the air is over-dried by heating, use a humidifier if possible or lower the thermostat, as cooler air is less drying.
Seek Help If You Need It
Skin conditions can result from taking medications. And, rashes related to medications can take weeks to appear. Even if you have never had a skin reaction to a medication, reactions can develop as a result of combining with other drugs and foods. If you have skin problems that seem new and cannot be managed by the recommendations above, see your medical provider for an evaluation of your over-the-counter, prescription and herbal medications.
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