Here's the fact: skin is our largest organ and we need to pay full attention to it, otherwise it'll backfire. Skin aging means the loss of collagen and therefore elasticity. It becomes drier, thinner and prone to various skin problems. But there are other reasons as well.
Why Skin Ages
For instance, lots of medication. Then failure to apply moisturizer regularly after hot baths - red flags! Next, it's scrubbing, the use of antibacterial soaps and other alcohol-based, scented skincare products which further strip the skin of its natural sebum - if there's any left.
What else causes the skin to age faster? Pollution, UVA and UVB rays, sunbeds and smoking. Add alcohol, non-hydration, high-carb processed food and again wrong or non-existing skincare routine and there it is. Dry, thin, itchy, spotty, blotchy, wrinkly, bruised skin that takes really long to heal.
A recent Oxford's academic issue of The Gerontologist suggests that the consequences of - and inevitable - skin aging are the biggest challenge when it comes to global skin health. Skin suffers from reduced function and very high susceptibility to various dermatoses, including "dry skin, itching, ulcers, dyspigmentation, wrinkles, fungal infections, as well as benign and malignant tumors are the most common skin conditions in aged populations worldwide."
Skin And Self-Esteem
Skin problems, including the one of "looking old" have a detrimental effect on both mental and emotional state, affecting social engagement and overall activity among seniors. It undermines their self-esteem, especially in this youth-obsessed culture, where appearing young is the key factor of attractiveness. Moreover, it further fuels "ageism" encountered in the health care sector.
Extremely dry skin (xerosis) is the most widespread skin condition worldwide. When untreated, it leads to sleep deprivation that further ages skin. Not to mention incessant scratching, leading to skin cracks, bleeding even infections. This means that skin's unhealthy aging and chronic conditions affect overall well-being and life quality, because of the decreased social activity and independence.
For those seniors unable to take care of themselves and their skin, there's help, too. They may opt for a personal assistant for elderly people or some other form of external help - relatives or nurses - who would follow a prescribed list of steps to make sure the skin condition is always in check.
Here are some issues found by the global dermatology experts:
- Skin cancer is the third most occurring cancer
- Prevention is the best and cheapest cure
- Hydration is prevention
- UV protection is a must
Start early in your life, but find a balance between overuse and under use
Do's And Don'ts
So, what should the elderly do? In all actuality, treating xerosis is quite inexpensive and simple. Slather an emollient - in the direction of hair growth, but beware of oils, they are a falling hazard - within three minutes after a short, lukewarm or warm bath and reapply it throughout the day. Don't wipe your skin, pat it instead. If that doesn't help, reach for AHA acids, and the last step, when the inflammation has taken its toll, is a cortisone cream.
Also, quit smoking, use sunscreen, whenever outside, regardless of weather and drink a lot of water. Furthermore, pay attention to the linen - the better the pillowcase, the lesser the chance of irritation. Change it often, especially for a bedridden senior. If the winter air is dry, use a humidifier, keeping the humidity level at 60 percent max.
Protect your hands: use an SPF outside, and gloves if you are gardening. Gloves are welcome for housework as well. Water, chemicals, and dust irritate the skin. SPF is really your best friend, it protects you from skin cancer and prevents further spotting. Use a broad-spectrum one, every day. Don't forget to reapply it every two hours. And remember that water and snow reflect the sun rays. Wear protective opaque clothing, eyeglasses, hats. Should we say never use a sunbed? And visit dermatologists often to perform a skin cancer examination. The earlier it's spotted, the better the prognosis for the treatment.
If you suffer from rosacea, follow all the previous advice, plus try avoiding the triggering foods, such as marinated meats, fermented foods, chocolate, hot beverages, and alcohol. Heat is a major trigger, as well, so remember not to stand next to a barbecue grill. If you have to, use wet towels to cool you off and long tongs to work around the food. Use an electric razor for safe shaving, or a sharp blade - a dull one will make rosacea flare. On top of that, avoid scented products.
The next piece of advice may sound a bit off, but it's important: lose weight. Two years ago, The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published that "obesity may also increase the risk of rosacea in women. The findings show that risk for rosacea increases significantly with increased body mass index (BMI), weight gain after age 18, and larger waist and hip circumferences. Rosacea has also been linked to other conditions outside of the skin including Alzheimer's disease."
Daily Skincare Routine
Finally, for those who don't have any specific issue, follow this list for glowing skin:
If you want your skin to be healthy for as long as it's possible, clean it gently. Get to know your skin type and use the appropriate cleanser - look for oil-based ones. After that, use a toner. Then, apply a matrixyl serum, which makes your skin produce collagen.
Did we mention sunscreen? Good. Find a good eye cream. Consult a dermatologist. Use face mists. Thermal or rose water.
Before going to bed, remove your makeup, cleanse the skin again with the mildest cream cleanser, spray toner and put an oil-based or vitamin C serum on a damp face. Dry brush your skin. "Merely by using long strokes towards your heart, you'll stimulate your lymphatic system and the body's natural detoxing process, while also leaving your skin as smooth as silk." Massage your face. Do facial yoga. Exercise your face the way you exercise your body.
Avoid sugar and alcohol. Eat antioxidants and probiotics. Your immune system will get a boost as well. Drink one rooibos tea and drink a spoonful of flaxseed oil per day. Take multivitamins as well. And omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inflammatory and hydrating effects.
Take care of your skin as you'd take care of any other organ. It's the most exposed one, and it should be at your service for a very long time. Visit dermatologists. Do regular skin checks. Don't forget the skin that's covered with your clothes.
And hydrate. That's the key.
Looking for 100% chemical-free, all-natural nourishing face and body oils? Check out Earth & Elm Nourishing Face Oil and Earth & Elm Nourishing Body Oil. Subscribe to our Trusted Health Club newsletter for more information about natural living tips, natural health, oral health and skincare. If you are looking for more health resources make sure to check out the Trusted Health Resources list.
Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londonlive-incare.com. She eagerly shares her knowledge with her audience on various blogs. When she isn’t writing or attending wellness conferences, she likes to pack her rucksack and ride her day away on her bike or spend time with her friends.