October 10, 2019

It’s a fact of life that as we age, our skin ages, too. Over time, our skin loses collagen and elastin, which causes our skin to lose some of its natural elasticity. Our skin also becomes more delicate as we age, which may cause dryness and increase the risk of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

While age-related changes to our skin are natural and normal, it’s never too late to begin taking better care of your skin. Not only will the right skincare routine prevent serious senior health concerns like skin cancer, but it can also improve the way your skin looks and feels.

Follow these tips to help keep your skin healthy for years to come:

#1: Moisturize daily

It’s common for older adults to have sensitive, dry skin, which can lead to discomfort, itchiness, and sometimes even skin problems such as eczema. Diabetes, kidney disease, and certain medications may also cause dry skin. To protect against dry and cracked skin, apply lotion a few times a day to hydrate your face, hands, and body. It’s best to use a gentle, unscented lotion. You may also consider investing in a humidifier, especially in the winter months.

#2: Use sunscreen all year round

You might believe that you only need to apply sunscreen in the summer. However, our skin is at risk for sun damage all year round—even in the winter! Exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun can lead to serious senior health concerns like skin cancer. Furthermore, sun damage is one of the leading causes of wrinkled or discolored skin. Luckily, it’s never too late to take steps to protect your skin from sun damage. One study found that daily sunscreen use can slow skin aging by up to 24 percent! Along with avoiding excessive sun exposure, it’s recommended that adults use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen to your face, neck, and the back of your hands. 

#3: Keep an eye on moles and blemishes

In between annual check-ups with a dermatologist, it’s important to perform monthly self-exams to look for any changes in your skin, including irregular moles or blemishes. According to the Skin Care Foundation, 99 percent of skin care cases are curable if they are diagnosed and treated early enough. Here are some of the warning signs of skin cancer to look for:

  • A new mole, spot, sore, or bump on your skin
  • A mole with an odd shape, irregular borders, or areas of different colors
  • A sore that doesn’t heal after several weeks
  • A mole or spot that has recently changed in size, shape, or color

As always, if you see anything that concerns you, be sure to have it checked by a doctor.

#4: Drink more water

Another way to keep your skin healthy is by drinking plenty of fluids. The general rule of thumb is that adults should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. However, older adults sometimes have trouble detecting the sensation of thirst, even when they’re already dehydrated. Moreover, some medications can have a diuretic effect, leading to an increased risk of dehydration.

Keeping a water bottle nearby can prompt you to drink more water throughout the day. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding lemons, limes, or fruit juice. Eating water-dense foods, such as cucumbers, watermelon, and strawberries, can also help you maintain proper hydration.

#5: Eat your way to healthier skin

Did you know that the foods you eat can have a positive impact on the health and appearance of your skin? Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are filled with omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and promote skin moisturization. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts, avocados, and coconut oil. Vegetables like red or yellow bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are filled with vitamins and minerals that are good for your skin, too. Even chocolate can have skin-boosting effects! Just be sure to choose chocolate with high levels of antioxidants (at least 70% cocoa) to maximize the benefits.

Taking good care of your skin is not about anti-aging; it’s about healthy aging! Most importantly, you don’t need to purchase expensive products or get invasive treatments to improve the look and feel of your skin. Remember, your skin is your body’s largest organ. Give it some well-deserved TLC and you’ll be well on your way to having naturally healthier skin.