Pennsylvania – Elderly Care: Dry Skin Causes and Treatment

As we age, our skin tends to lose moisture, leading to dry skin. Dry skin is often flaky, cracked, scaly or rough. Dry skin isn’t a problem for many seniors, but in some cases, it can mean that there’s an underlying health problem. Here are some things that elder care providers should be aware of if they notice dry skin on their clients.

What Causes Dry Skin in the Elderly?

As we age, the body produces less elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid. As a result, skin loses its elasticity and becomes thin, fragile and dry. Even the sebaceous glands, which produce oils, can’t moisturize the skin. Combine that with a reduction in skin cell turnover and the skin becomes very dry. This dryness can begin as early as age 40, when the skin starts losing lipids. Lipids help prevent moisture loss and when they become depleted, skin starts to dry out.

There are other causes of dry skin. Many seniors take medications for chronic health conditions and certain ones – such as those used to treat renal, thyroid and cardiovascular conditions – can contribute to dry skin. Many seniors enjoy taking hot showers or baths and if they fail to use moisturizer afterward, their skin will become very dry. Many elderly people also use harsh cleansers and skincare products that can contain alcohol, and both can make dry skin even worse. Antiaging products and waterless antibacterial cleansers can also dry out the skin.

Assessment and Treatment

If dry skin is becoming an issue for your client, it’s important to have it assessed by a doctor. Dry skin is often itchy and too much scratching can cause a rash. This leads to a vicious cycle that can be hard to stop. Duration and time of onset are important factors to assess. If dry skin appears suddenly, fungal infections and heat stroke could be to blame. If your client has been dealing with dry skin for his or her entire life, then a congenital disease may be the problem.

Treating dry skin shouldn’t be complicated. The doctor will likely try a non-prescription approach first. A thick moisturizer after a bath can work wonders. Cortisone creams can help for extremely dry and itchy skin. To keep dry skin at bay, it’s important to use gentle cleansers. Look for skincare products that contain lactic acid and oatmeal, both which help calm the skin. Avoid fragrances and harsh ingredients.

If you are considering hiring elderly care services in Pennsylvania, call the caring staff at Extended Family Care of PA at (888) 660-6478.