Caring for Mature Skin, part 1
All through our lives, our skin is changing. From birth to childhood, skin has different qualities than teen years. Mature skin also involves changes and it is important to realize some of the common traits, problems and solutions for aging skin in order to address specific issues that need to be recognized and properly treated.
We are exploring this area of dermatology in this week’s Skin School blog article to better educate our clients (current and potential) and help them achieve overall healthy skin.
Mature Skin Traits
As we get older, our skin undergoes a number of changes. How skin ages depends on several factors: lifestyle, diet, heredity, as well as other personal habits.
The most common characteristic of elderly skin is dryness. This is because as we age, our skin begins to thin. As it thins, it is less able to retain moisture, thus leading to dry skin.
Dry skin can lead to problems in a younger person, but can cause even more problems for the elderly. Because their skin is thin and can be easily torn, bacteria get in, thus increasing their chances of developing an infection.
Sun damage is another common trait of aging skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin damage from the sun is due to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light, which “breaks down elastic tissue (elastin) in the skin and causes the skin to stretch, sag, wrinkle, and become blotchy, occasionally with pre-cancerous growths and even skin cancer.”
Sun exposure (UV radiation) is the most common cause of pre-cancers and skin cancer, either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Many Americans (a million each year) will develop a skin cancer by age 65.
Skin changes that accompany aging include:
- Roughened or dry skin
- Benign growths such as seborrheic, keratoses, and cherry angiomas
- Loose facial skin, especially around the eyes, cheeks, and jowls (jaw line)
- Transparent or thinned skin
- Bruising easily from decreased elasticity
Common Skin Conditions in Older Adults:
- Wrinkles: Wrinkles are the most visible sign of aging skin. They follow chronic sun exposure and form when the skin loses its flexibility. Smokers tend to have more wrinkles than nonsmokers.
- Facial movement lines: These lines (often known as “laugh lines” and “worry lines”) become more visible as the skin loses its elasticity (in your 40′s or 50′s). The lines may be horizontal on the forehead, vertical above the nose, or curved on the temples, upper cheeks, and around the mouth and eyes.
- Age spots: “Age spots” are brown patches that appear on sun-exposed parts of the body (face, hands, and forearms), usually during the adult years.
- Bedsores: Bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers) are skin ulcers that develop from pressure when people lie in bed or sit in a chair for long periods of time. Bedsores are a fairly common disorder in elderly people who have difficulty moving on their own. People with diabetes are more prone to bedsores because of their poor circulation and decreased feeling in their skin. Frequent rotation or re-positioning helps to prevent bedsores.
Tips for Preventing Mature Skin Conditions
Nothing can undo sun damage, but the skin can occasionally repair itself. Here are some tips to help keep your skin healthy.
- Use sunscreen when outdoors. Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more provides the most protection.
- Wear a hat and long sleeves when outdoors and sunglasses that block UV rays.
- Avoid the use of tanning booths and sunlamps.
- Examine yourself regularly for “changing moles” and new growths.
This is part one of a 2-part series on mature skin and its care. Tune in next week for more information about mature skin and how to keep it in great shape!
Would you like to learn more about the treatments and products available to get your skin in better shape? A member of our team here at Knoxville Dermatology Group can help! Skin health is an important part of total body wellness. Schedule an appointment today with one of our board certified physicians to get your skin the care it needs so it can reach its fullest, healthiest potential.
Contact Knoxville Dermatology Group at 865.690.9467.