As adults age, a variety of factors affect the condition of our skin: lifestyle, diet, heredity, exposure to the elements, personal habits, even how much sleep we get each night. By the time you reach your 60s and beyond, your skin will need a little special care. Here are some things you can do to protect your skin and to make it feel and look better.
Take fewer baths or showers and use milder soap. Warm water is less drying than hot water. Some simple changes to your bath time can reduce (or alleviate) dry, itchy skin and prevent dry, itchy from becoming a serious problem. Keep your bath or shower short and wash with a gentle, fragrance-free, moisturizing bar soap, cleanser, or body wash.
Use a humidifier when the air feels dry. Heating and air conditioning can strip humidity from the air. Dry air can make your skin feel dry and itchy. Keeping indoor humidity between 45% and 60% can reduce dry, itchy skin. You can easily measure the humidity in the air with a hydrometer, which you can buy at a hardware or home-improvement store.
Wear gloves while doing housework and gardening. Working around your house and in your garden can expose your skin to harsh chemicals, sunlight, and other things that can irritate and dry your skin. When you wear gloves, you also reduce your risk of injuring your skin.
Go fragrance free. Fragrance can irritate your skin. To help heal dry, itchy skin and prevent it from coming back, stop using perfumes, colognes, and skin care products that contain fragrance. Products that are fragrance free say “fragrance free” on the package.
Limit time in the sun. It’s okay to go out during the day but try to avoid being in sun during peak times when the sun’s rays are strongest. For example, during the summer, try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Don’t be fooled by cloudy skies. The sun’s rays can go through clouds. You can also get sunburned if you are in water, so be careful when you are in a pool, a lake, or the ocean.
Use sunscreen. Look for sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) number of 30 or higher. It’s best to choose sunscreens with “broad spectrum” on the label. Put the sunscreen on 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours. You need to put sunscreen on more often if you are swimming, sweating, or rubbing your skin with a towel.
Wear protective clothing. A hat with a wide brim can shade your neck, ears, eyes, and head. Look for sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of the sun’s rays. If you have to be in the sun, wear loose, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants or long skirts.
Get a good night’s sleep. Your body (including your skin) is trying to repair itself at night while you sleep. The amount you need for a good night’s sleep varies from person to person, but you can do a lot to improve the quality of your sleep like waking up and going to sleep at the same time and avoiding caffeine late in the day.
Exercise regularly. Even just taking a brisk walk every day can help boost your circulation. This helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells. Light exercise also helps stimulate oil production in your skin, which can give you a smoother complexion.
Examine your skin for signs of skin cancer. Around 50 years of age, your risk of developing skin cancer and pre-cancerous growths increases. As the years pass, this risk rises. When skin cancer is found early and removed, that’s often the only treatment you’ll needed. If the cancer spreads, treatment becomes more difficult. Learning how to examine your skin for signs of skin cancer can help you to find skin cancer early. To learn how to examine your skin, click here.
Caring for your physical and mental/emotional health does wonders for your aging skin. Even being social and spending time with friends elevate your mood and gives you a “healthy glow” that goes far beyond your skincare routine.
Dr. Cohn is a Board Certified Dermatologist who provides her patients with the newest, most advanced techniques in dermatology and dermatologic cosmetic surgery.
Dr. Cohn has specialty training and extensive experience in pediatric dermatology, skin cancer and skin of color. She also specializes in procedures for improving aging skin including: laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, fillers, sclerotherapy for large varicose and spider veins, hair loss in women, and alpha hydroxy acids for skin rejuvenation.