dermatology certified nurse practitioner, payson dermatology
Editor’s note: The following is from a presentation by Teresa Corrigan at a recent Doc Talk at Banner High Country Seniors.
Our skin is the body’s largest organ and the part we present to the world. With each passing season, weather, wear and tear change our skin in ways to which we must adapt to keep it as healthy as possible.
How skin can change in our 60s and 70s
Everyone ages differently, but during this time in your life, you may notice that your skin is:
• Thinner and starting to look paper-like
• Developing more age spots, wrinkles, and creases
• Irritated easily
• More susceptible to skin infections
• Bruising more easily
• Sweating less
• Healing more slowly
How to care for your skin in your 60s and 70s
When it comes to skin care in our 60s and 70s, the following lifestyle changes are recommended:
Bathe to relieve dry skin
• Some simple changes to your bath time can reduce (or alleviate) dry, itchy skin and prevent dry, itchy skin from becoming a serious problem. Here’s what you can do: stop using bar soap, replace it with a gentle, creamy, fragrance-free cleanser or emollient; use warm (not hot) water, hot water strips skin of its natural oils, which can increase skin dryness; use a soft cloth to wash your skin, a buff puff or bath brush can irritate your skin.
• Keep your bath or shower short. You may find that you don’t need to bathe every day. When you bathe, keep it short. Take a 10-minute bath or shower.
• Pat water gently from your skin after bathing, but leave a bit of water on your skin. Having some water on your skin when you apply moisturizer (next step) helps hydrate your skin.
• Apply a creamy, fragrance-free moisturizer formulated for dry skin within 3 minutes of bathing and throughout the day, this helps ease dryness and restores your skin’s protective barrier.
Use a humidifier when the air is dry
• Heating and air conditioning can make the air dry, which can dry out the skin and make your skin feel dry and itchy.
• Keeping indoor humidity between 45 percent and 60 percent can reduce dry, itchy skin. You can easily measure the humidity in the air with a hydrometer, which you can buy at a hardware store.
Wear gloves for 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 reduce the risk of injuring your skin.
Protect your skin from the sun
• If you’re seeing more wrinkles, age spots, and blotches of discolored skin, it is a sign that you need to increase effort to protect your skin from the sun.
• At this stage in your life, sun protection still offers many benefits. It helps to prevent new age spots and blotchy skin. It can reduce dry, thinning skin. It also reduces your risk of developing skin cancer.
• To protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, we recommend that you: Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day. You want to apply this to all skin that clothing won’t cover while you’re outside. Seek shade when outdoors. Sunscreen cannot block 100 percent of the sun’s harmful rays. Wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun. To find out if a garment offers sun protection, hold it up to a bright light. If you don’t see light shining through, it can protect your skin from the sun
Go fragrance free
Perfumes, colognes, and skin care products that contain fragrance can irritate your skin. When you stop using these, you can reduce your risk of developing dry, itchy skin.
Rosacea is one of the most common skin disorders. An estimated 16 million Americans have rosacea, yet only a small fraction are being treated.
Rosacea often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people.
The redness can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Even the ears, chest, and back can be red all the time.
Rosacea can cause more than redness. There are so many signs and symptoms that rosacea has four subtypes: erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: redness, flushing, visible blood vessels; papulopustular rosacea: redness, swelling, and acne-like breakouts; phymatous rosacea: skin thickens and has a bumpy texture; ocular rosacea: eyes red and irritated, eyelids can be swollen, and person may have what looks like a sty.
Rosacea can affect quality of life
Because rosacea is a chronic (long-lasting) skin disease, it can reduce a person’s quality of life. Many people report problems at work, in their marriage and with meeting new people. Surveys and studies report that living with rosacea can cause:
• Feelings of frustration and embarrassment.
• Worry: People worry that rosacea will get worse or cause scars and there might be side effects from medicine used to treat rosacea.
• Low self-esteem: Surveys found that almost 70 percent of people living with rosacea said that the condition lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem.
• Work-related problems: Surveys find that when rosacea is severe, 70 percent of people say the disease affects their interactions at work; nearly 30 percent say that rosacea causes them to miss work.
• Anxiety and depression: Living with a skin condition that flares unexpectedly can cause people to believe you have a drinking problem and this can cause anxiety and depression.
Treatment seems to improve a person’s quality of life. Studies show that when people have fewer signs and symptoms of rosacea, their quality of life improves.
• To give you the best results, treatment often begins with a bit of education. While medicine or laser treatment can help reduce or clear signs of rosacea, your everyday habits may cause a new flare-up.
• Learning how to do the following can help reduce flare-ups: Find your triggers. Many things you do can cause rosacea to flare. Common triggers for rosacea include becoming overheated, having cold wind blowing on your face, and eating spicy foods. These may — or may not — cause your rosacea to flare.
Common causes of rosacea flare ups: sunlight and hairspray are common rosacea triggers; other common triggers include heat, stress, alcohol, and spicy foods.
• Sun screen helps keep rosacea in check. People who have rosacea often find that their skin is quite sensitive to the sun. To protect your skin from the sun, you’ll want to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 (or higher) every day before you head outdoors — zinc oxide is best; avoid the midday sun; seek shade when outdoors; slip on a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors to protect your face and neck from the sun; wear sun-protective clothing and sunglasses
Gentle cleansing, moisturize, sun screen
Many skin care products can irritate skin with rosacea. Some skin care habits, such as scrubbing your skin clean, can cause rosacea to flare. Using mild skin care products and being gentle with your skin can help prevent flare-ups.
Rosacea friendly skin care involves: finding a mild cleanser to wash your face; using only your fingertips to gently apply the cleanser to your face; rinsing with lukewarm or cool water; gently patting your face dry with a soft, clean towel.
Skip the washcloths, toners, astringents, and deodorant soaps on skin with rosacea. These can increase redness.
If most skin care products cause redness, burning, or stinging, a dermatologist can recommend skin care products that are gentle enough for you to use.
One great treatment for rosacea redness is Brimonidine gel. This prescription medication can reduce the redness on your face caused by rosacea. It works for up to 12 hours. Once the effects wear off, the redness returns. With daily use, you can have reduced facial redness for up to 12 hours a day.