As you get older, certain age-related changes cause your skin to become drier, thinner, more fragile and generally more susceptible to skin disorders. There’s nothing that strips skin of its vital moisture quicker than harsh winter weather. Freezing temperatures and bitter winds can leave skin cracked, bleeding and even open to infection. Fortunately, there are steps older adults (and those who care for them) can take to minimize discomfort and improve skin health. Take a look at some skin care tips to bear in mind throughout the winter.
Xerosis (dryness of skin) is a direct contributing cause of many skin conditions. Regularly applying lotion, cream or ointment immediately after showering can be vital to locking hydration into skin. Covering the moisturized areas of the body quickly thereafter with warm, comfortable clothes aids the moisture absorption.
Be sure to check the ingredients of whatever moisturizer you’re considering for you or a loved one you're caring for. Many contain lanolin, which some people experience a sensitivity to. Vaseline (petroleum jelly) can be an absolute skin saver, although you may find it to have a slightly greasy consistency. Body soufflé creams are also fantastic for maintaining skin’s hydration. Products such as Gold Bond daily skin therapy cream and Crepe ultra-hydrating skin firming cream are considered reliable by many and well-known for their effectiveness in supporting appropriate hydration.
In addition to keeping skin hydrated, it’s essential to hydrate from the inside out. Unless a particular medical condition requires the limiting of fluid intake, drinking eight glasses of water a day is recommended by most doctors. It’s easy to become dehydrated in the wintertime when you may not necessarily be craving a cold beverage, but you may want to avoid skimping on fluids just because it’s cold outside. And for those caring for adults with a memory diagnosis, it may be helpful to track fluid consumption for them too to help them drink a healthy amount daily.
As temperatures drop, a hot shower begins to sound more tempting. However, hot water can strip the skin of natural oils that it needs, causing further dryness. Keep shower water in a moderately warm temperature range and also to avoid lingering in the water for longer than necessary.
If your loved one needs some help with bathing, grooming, dressing or other daily tasks and has a memory disorder, the memory care level of service at Autumn View Gardens may be an option to provide for them safely and comfortably.
While sunscreen may be seen as a staple of summertime, older adults are actually more susceptible to sunburn on cloudy winter days. Sun protection is particularly important in areas prone to snow, as UV rays reflect off of the snow and can easily cause damaging sunburns. Before going outdoors this winter, make sure you apply sunscreen with an adequate SPF level for your skin type.
While you may not be able to control the dry and frigid weather outside, you can use a humidifier to add moisture to the dry, artificially-heated air in your own house. This can benefit your skin (or your loved one's skin) and alleviate dry and inflamed airways if you allow it to run throughout the day or night. If you purchase a humidifier, read the manufacturer’s instructions to understand the best methods of using and cleaning your specific humidifier to avoid breathing in built-up bacteria or mold.
Saying you should bundle up before heading outside during the winter may seem obvious, but knowing the right kind of clothes to wear is important when it comes to protecting your skin. There’s much more to it than just wearing long-sleeves or multiple layers. Some wintertime clothes can be weighty, uncomfortable or irritating to skin. It’s important to find protective clothing that provides warmth, keeps your skin safe and provides comfort. Clothes that make your body feel scratchy or limit your mobility too much may do more harm than good. Take your time selecting wintertime attire and ensure that it conforms well to your movements and feels pleasant to your skin. If you're helping an older loved one choose clothing, do the same for them.
Be sure to cover extremities and faces as much as possible. Cold, dry air can affect fingers, toes, ears and noses quicker than other parts of the body. Toques, scarves, gloves, leg warmers and thick socks — these are integral additions to wintertime wardrobes. If you or your loved one must venture out into snow and ice fairly frequently, finding some durable slip-resistant boots is another preventative measure you can take to ward against slips, falls and other injurious accidents.