Elderly Skincare Conditions: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Elderly skin conditions & symptoms
There are days you feel the itch is unbearable and your skin feels dry and rough.
Sometimes you discover blue and black bruises or injured skin which you do not recall hurting yourself.
When you look at the mirror, the fine lines around the eyes are more pronounced and the laughing lines have developed into folds.
You rummaged through your storeroom and chanced upon an old photo of yourself. Youthful, tanned and toned from a healthy amount of time spent in the great outdoors. You wonder what has happened since!
You wonder what has caused all that and if there are effective treatments to reverse them.
What happens to skin when we age?
Years spent sun ‘worshipping’ may have led to wrinkles, dryness and age spots.
With age, skin also becomes thinner as the process of cell renewal slows. The top layer of skin stays longer on the surface giving it a dull look. The skin feels rough and scaly. Ageing skin loses fat and elasticity, no longer looking as plump and smooth as before.
It may have thinned so much so that veins and bones can be seen. Scratches, cuts, or bumps appear which you cannot recall how you got it and they can take long time to heal.
What are the common elderly skin conditions & diseases and symptoms?
1. Dry Skin and Itching
Many seniors suffer from dry patches on their skin that feels rough and scaly. It commonly occurs on their lower legs, elbows, and lower arms. As the oil content of skin decreases with age due to shrinking oil glands, the skin becomes dry and flakes easily. Skin can feel of dry, taut and itchy.
Sometimes an onset of eczema occurs in areas of dry skin. The eczema is lightly marked by scaly round red patches or a distinctive red scaly appearance like cracked porcelain.
Bacterial infection is a risk if bacteria enters the fissures/cracks on dry skin causing superficial infection eg. Ringworm infection.
There are many possible reasons for dry skin, such as:
- Not enough fluid intake
- Too much sun exposure or artificial sun tanning
- Long hours spent in a dry environment
- Shrinking sweat and oil glands
- Health problems eg. diabetes or kidney disease.
- Harsh or synthetic chemicals from soap, antiperspirant, or perfume
- Long hot baths
- Certain types of medication
Mature skin may bruise more easily because blood vessels are easily ruptured, resulting in bruises. This is called senile purpura. It can take longer for these bruises to heal on ageing skin. There are certain medication or ailments that may also cause bruising.
The environment we live in exposes us to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun which makes skin less elastic and wrinkle. Gravity and reduced skin elasticity can cause skin to sag. Lifestyle habits, like stress and smoking can also cause wrinkles.
There are lots of claims about how to make wrinkles go away. Some methods can be painful or even dangerous, while others are plain fallacies.
4. Age Spots and Skin Tags
Age spots are flat, brown spots sometimes called senile freckles. They are often the result of skin damaged by sunlight due to years in the sun. Age spots are bigger than freckles and commonly show up on areas like the face, hands, arms, back, and feet.
Skin tags are raised surfaces of small, usually flesh-colored growths of skin. It is common on matured skin, especially for women. Often found on the eyelids, neck, and body folds such as the armpit, chest, and groin. Though harmless, skin tags can become irritated. A skin specialist can help remove them.
5. Blistering Disorders
When chickenpox is reactivated in old age a band of blistering occurs, typically on one side of the head or body or along one limb. Shingles, which is the same as the chickenpox virus, is associated with severe pain.
Large blisters arising from red or normal skin can be the result of an immune disorder. This condition may require medical attention to suppress it.
6. Skin Growth & Cancer
Skin Growths is not easy to prevent even with proper senior skincare. There are some important factors to look out for in skin growths for possible skin cancer.
The “ABCDE’s” checklist for birthmarks, moles and skin growths:
A = Asymmetry (half of the growth looks different from the other)
B = Borders are irregular
C = Color changes in a mixture of black, tan, brown, blue, red, or white
D = Diameter is bigger than 6mm
E = Evolving and changing in size, shape, colour and symptoms (itch, tenderness, especially bleeding)
It is important to consult a doctor if the above symptoms are present.
The sun is the main cause of skin cancer. So are sunlamps and tanning booths. Any person, of any skin colour, can get skin cancer but people with fair skin are at greater risk. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer which can spread to other organs. However, the good news is skin cancer can be cured if it is found before it spreads.
Natural remedies for elderly skin conditions
- Reduce the number of showers per day. Long hot baths can strain and damage skin. Avoid using very hot and steaming water.
- Avoid harsh chemicals in soaps, artificial ingredients and colouring or synthetic fragrances. The milder, the safer. The Liquid Hand & Body Wash from Emu Tracks, made from Australian Emu Oil, is ideal for all body and frequent use, suitable for sensitive, ageing skin.
- Apply mild moisturizers on the skin immediately after every bath to keep skin hydrated. Pure & natural emu oil from Emu Tracks can penetrate skin easily to moisturise and plump up dry skin. It contains Omega 3,6 & 9 that nourishes skin as it moisturises.
- If an individual is bedridden, clothes and beddings should be changed regularly to keep elderly skin healthy. Pure emu oil can be applied topically to target skin conditions like eczema, dry and itchy skin, bed sores, injured and damaged skin. Emu Oil capsules also contains vitamins A,D,E,F & K2 for healthy skin, hair and nails.
- Wearing a broad spectrum, SPF15+ sunscreen 15mins before going out into the sun and reapplying often, especially if swimming.
- Avoid smoking.
- Drink lots of water and fluids daily, throughout the day, to stay hydrated.
- During dry seasons like winter or spending long hours in air-conditioned room, use a room humidifier.