Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Assistance With Aging Skin Changes

Skin changes as the body ages. It becomes thinner. It loses some of its elasticity. It is less able to protect itself from damage, and it heals more slowly from cuts or burns.

Dry skin is a common problem in older adults. To avoid dry skin:

Shower or bathe with warm water

Apply a skin lotion over the whole body, while it is still damp

Always shower and apply lotion immediately after swimming in a chlorinated pool or sitting in a spa

Avoid saunas

Apply lotion to entire skin surface at bedtime

Use only soaps designed for dry skin

Consider using a humidifier on cold, dry winter days.

It helps to be slightly damp when lotion is applied to help lock in moisture. But don't leave the skin too damp, or fungal infections can develop. Women should dry under the breasts, and both men and women should dry their genital areas well after showering or bathing.

Skin tears are very common. They tend to be shallow, involving the outer most layer of the skin. Tears occur from rubbing, pulling or touching on something in the home. For example, bumping counter tops, coffee tables or bedposts can result in a tear. It is important to try to prevent such injuries. Look around the home and remove potential targets. Consider padding bedposts or corners of tables with soft cushiony materials.

Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound. If bleeding does not stop within a few minutes, obtain assistance from your health care provider.

Wash the wound with soap and water. If the injury occurred outside and rocks or gravel are inside the wound, they need to be removed.

If the cut or tear is small, you can apply an antibacterial cream and then a bandage. It is usually most helpful to apply a soft roll of gauze, wrapping it around the affected area and applying tape to the gauze instead of directly onto the skin since many people experience more skin tears from the adhesive sticking too well to the skin and tearing as it comes off.

Watch for signs of infection, such as: odor, pain, fever, drainage, redness, red streaks, or warmth in the area. If you notice any of these signs, contact your doctor as soon as possible.