As we age, our chances of developing skin-related disorders increase. One of the reasons is that our skin is constantly renewing itself, but as we get older this process slows down. The outer skin layer (epidermis) thins, even though the number of cell layers remains unchanged.
Aging skin becomes thinner, paler, and clear (transparent) and no longer looks as plump and smooth as it once did. Our skin and blood vessels become more fragile which can lead to bruising, bleeding under the skin (often called senile purpura), cherry angiomas, and similar conditions. The breakdown of elastin fibers causes the skin to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to snap back after stretching.
Years of sun tanning will lead to wrinkles, dryness, age spots, and maybe even cancer. A history of smoking will also increase wrinkles and a grayish discoloration especially around the mouth. But, there are some things you can do to protect your skin.
- Limit time in the sun. Try to avoid being in sun during peak times when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Use sunscreen. Look for sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) number of 15 or higher. It’s best to choose sunscreens with “broad spectrum” on the label.
- 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 percent of the sun’s rays.
- Avoid tanning. Don’t use sunlamps or tanning beds.
- Bathe to relieve dry skin. Some simple changes to your bath time can reduce dry, itchy skin and prevent it from becoming a serious problem.
- 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.
- 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.
- Good nutrition and adequate fluids are also helpful.
- 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.
Nothing can completely undo sun damage, but there are some procedures that Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center might recommend including:
- Topical creams and lotions
- Injections to reduce lines, wrinkles and expression lines
- Intense pulsed light therapy (IPL) or lasers
- Cosmetic surgery
Older adults are more at risk of developing skin cancer, so it’s important that you regularly check yourself for any new moles, suspicious looking spots, or for any changes in existing moles. Check your skin often and if you find any changes that worry you, contact Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center by calling 330-425-7600 or set up an appointment online by clicking here.