Common Skin Problems in the Elderly

Skin problems can be common for people of all ages, but they are often more common in the elderly. Some of these common skin problems are just a part of aging, but many of them can be treated or prevented. We at Carefect Home Care Services understand the importance of having healthy skin and would like to offer some tips on how to recognize, prevent and manage skin problems.

Wrinkles and Facial Movement Lines

Wrinkles and facial movement lines are the most common skin problems found in the elderly. Wrinkles are formed from the skin losing elasticity and can be worsened by spending too much time in the sun and smoking. Facial movement lines are similar to wrinkles, but they form in specific areas on the face such as the forehead or around the mouth also known as “laugh lines” or “worry lines”. Wrinkles cannot be completely cured but you can soften them by using tretinoin. Age spots are also common in seniors and are caused by spending too much time in the sun. Age spots appear on the body as brown patches that are slightly darker than the rest of the skin. Age spots usually appear on the face, hands and forearms but can be prevented by using sunscreen or covering up before spending time in the sun. Seniors can wear a hat and a long sleeved shirt when they go out in the sun to prevent new age spots from forming.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is another common skin problem that seniors face that can be caused by spending too much time in the sun. Many adults will develop skin cancer by the time they are 65, but it is usually very treatable. Skin cancer can easily be prevented by following the same precautionary measures that you would follow for age spots as well as by avoiding tanning beds and sunlamps. Seniors should check their skin regularly for moles that appear to be changing shape and for new growths on the skin as both of these can be indicators of skin cancer. Not every mole or growth is cancerous, but seniors who are concerned about getting skin cancer should visit their doctor or a dermatologist to have a biopsy done.

Dry or Itching Skin

People of all ages experience dry or itching skin at some point, usually during the winter, but seniors are especially prone to having dry skin. Many seniors develop dry skin problems because as we age our bodies start to lose oil glands that would normally help keep our skin soft. Regularly applying lotion or moisturizer can help hydrate the skin and keep it from being dry and itchy. The moisture from humidifiers can also be helpful in hydrating the skin, but frequent bathing can make the skin drier and should be avoided. Both of these treatment options are very easy to follow because seniors can find lotion and humidifiers at the store and do not have to visit a doctor to be treated unless they believe that their dry skin is a result of another medical condition.

Bedsores

Seniors who have difficulty walking or moving on their own often experience bedsores from spending too much time lying or sitting in one spot. Bedsores are ulcers that develop on the skin as a result of too much pressure being applied to an area of the body for a long period of time. Bedsores usually develop on bony areas of the body such as the heel, ankles, hips or buttocks and can be very painful. Seniors are more prone to developing bedsores than other age groups because many seniors suffer from mobility problems as they age and do not move around as much as they used to. Frequent rotation or re-positioning can help prevent bedsores from forming on the body. Family caregivers who have trouble moving their loved one on their own can hire a homecare services company to send a professional caregiver to come and assist them a few times a day. If bedsores do develop, seniors should visit a doctor to have the damaged tissue removed to prevent infection.

Skin problems are very common in seniors, but can easily be prevented or managed by taking care of the body and skin properly. Family caregivers should make sure that their loved ones follow all precautionary measures to prevent sun damage and should make sure that their loved one is properly hydrating their skin. Bedsores can often be the most painful to deal with, so family caregivers should be especially careful in this area and should make sure that their loved one is moving enough to keep them from developing bedsores.

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