Helping an aging loved one with grooming can reveal that they struggle with dry skin. Perhaps they’ve noticed white flakes on the arms and neck, or witnessed their loved one scratching an itch so hard that they left red marks. Researchers have discovered that seniors are more likely to develop dry skin than younger generations for a number of different reasons. There’s no doubt that dry skin can make an elderly loved one uncomfortable.
Why Do Seniors Develop Dry Skin?
Like most things, the skin doesn’t work quite as efficiently as it once did when it ages. Oil-producing glands in the skin slow down, making it easier for the skin to dry out. Skin also gets thinner and less lubricated with age. Seniors can develop dry skin due to lack of moisture in the air, side effects of medicines, bathing too frequently and not moisturizing the skin often enough. Areas that are generally most affected by dry skin include the hands, arms, legs and back.
Health Effects of Dry Skin.
While dry skin itself is not really a health risk, it can open the gate to an increase in problems for seniors that suffer with it. Dry skin in seniors can range from a mild annoyance that causes discomfort and itching. When they scratch their itches, the fingernails can break the skin because it is so thin, leading to wounds and infections. Some illnesses manifest with dry skin as one of the symptoms, or it could be a reaction to medication. Dry skin can also trigger other skin conditions and rashes.
If left untreated, dry skin can lead to bacterial infections, cellulitis, skin discoloration and eczema. The good news is that dry skin is almost entirely preventable when the elderly person, family caregiver and senior care assistants implement a good skin care routine.
Treating Dry Skin in Seniors.
There are several simple ways that family caregivers and senior care assistants can combat dry skin in elderly people. Of course, proper hydration is a big part of keeping the skin working properly. Seniors should drink the recommended amount of water daily to help skin look and feel its best. When bathing or showering, elderly people should use warm water and avoid hot water, which can also dry the skin out. Some soaps and body washes can further irritate the skin, so family caregivers and senior care aides should make sure they are using products designed for sensitive skin.
Using moisturizer on the skin is an excellent way to keep it from drying out. Lotions designed for dry skin with little to no dye or perfume are preferable. Tight-fitting clothes with abrasive fabric can also strip moisture from the skin. Seniors may also feel more comfortable with a humidifier, especially if they live in a hot and dry climate. Finally, elderly people should take care not to get sunburned, because that can further damage the skin and make it difficult for it to retain any moisture.
It’s not difficult for family caregivers to take the necessary steps to relieve aging loved ones of dry skin. The relief and comfort that seniors will experience as a result can really make a difference in their quality of life.
The staff at Home Care Matters is available to talk with you and your family about all of your needs. Home Care Matters is a home care agency providing quality and affordable senior care in Duluth, GA and the surrounding areas. Call (678) 828-2195 for more information.
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