Winter is harsh on the skin, often leaving it dry, irritated and even cracked. With elderly adults, their skin is already less supple and robust due to age. This means that winter weather can be particularly rough on their skin and opens the door for discomfort, pain and even infections. Family caregivers must take extra care to help their aging relatives practice good skin care and be proactive in creating a skin care regimen that will protect it.
Here are some frequently asked questions about winter skin health in aging adults:
Q: What causes winter skin problems in seniors?
A: Extreme temperatures, dry air and aging skin combine to create a host of skin problems in elderly adults. A senior’s skin is already lacking in suppleness and moisture, and the harsh elements strip away essential oils and moisture, leaving it dry and dull. An elderly person’s body doesn’t have the ability to maintain moisture on its own.
Q: How do baths and showers create dry winter skin?
A: Hot water from baths and showers can strip essential oils from the skin, leaving it dry and itchy. Instead of hot water, family caregivers and senior care providers should use lukewarm water as they assist the elderly adult in the bathroom.
Q: Can family caregivers do anything about dry air in the house?
A: Family caregivers and senior care providers can create an atmosphere in the house that is better for skin by lowering the thermostat so that it isn’t blowing hot air all the time. Adding a humidifier to the aging adult’s bedroom and sitting room can also put more moisture in the air, which is better for the skin.
Q: Do lotions and creams help with winter skin?
A: A good moisturizing cream can help elderly skin from drying out, as it provides a protective layer that prevents evaporation. Family caregivers should help seniors moisturize when they finish showering or bathing, and as needed throughout the day. Hands should get special attention with moisturizer after every wash. A quality lip balm can help prevent chapped lips, too.
Q: Does diet help seniors prevent poor winter skin health?
A: The skin is the largest organ in the body, and it is positively affected by a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. Seniors should also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, which also leads to better skin health.
Q: How should family caregivers and senior care providers treat cracked skin in seniors?
A: If elderly adults already have cracked skin due to dryness, family caregivers and senior care providers can help it heal faster by treating them as they would a wound. After cleaning the hands with warm soapy water, family caregivers should apply an antibacterial ointment and cover it with a bandage. Natural moisturizers that include lanolin, coconut oil or petroleum jelly can keep the area moist without irritation. Some seniors find it helpful to wear light cotton gloves in the night to keep moisture in the skin.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services in Sharon MA, or anywhere in Eastern Massachusetts, please call the caring staff at CARE Resolutions – (508) 906-5572.
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