Age isn’t kind to your skin. As you get older, you lose proteins that previously gave your skin its youthful firmness. Here are some skin care tips for seniors.
Age can impart wisdom and perspective, but it isn’t kind to your skin. As you get older, you lose collagen and elastin — proteins that previously gave your skin its youthful firmness. Your skin also thins, revealing a fine network of blood vessels under the surface. And, years of exposure to the sun’s damaging rays mar its once-smooth surface with wrinkles and age spots.
Though you can’t entirely undo the ravages of time on your skin — or any other part of you, for that matter — you can minimize the effects with a few smart skin care strategies. “You’ll help prevent future damage, and you may even reverse some of the damage that has already been done,” said Skin Cancer Foundation senior vice president, Deborah Sarnoff, MD.
Shield your skin
The single biggest contributor to skin aging is sun worshipping. When the sun’s UV rays penetrate your skin, they damage collagen and elastin, and alter DNA in a way that can lead to skin cancer.
Even if you did a lot of damage while sunbathing at the beach or pool years ago, you can protect your skin moving forward. Ideally, stay indoors during peak sun hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have to go outside, cover all of your exposed skin with an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. “Apply sunscreen every single day as part of your morning routine,” says Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD. “You need it even when walking to your mailbox, or from your car into the store.”
If you have to stay out longer than two hours, reapply sunscreen. To further minimize your exposure, wear SPF clothing, wraparound sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat that shields your face, neck, and ears.
Make moisturizing part of your daily skin ritual. Rich emollient moisturizers containing ingredients like ceramides hold water in your skin and fill in fine lines. An SPF skin care product will serve double duty by shielding your skin from the sun, too. Try an anti-aging cream, which is specifically designed to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Scrub the smokes
With every cigarette drag you take, you pull hundreds of chemicals into your lungs. Those chemicals make their way through your bloodstream to your skin, where they damage collagen and elastin and produce wrinkles. Smoking also gives your skin a pale, unhealthy appearance. To protect your skin — and the rest of your body — from the detrimental effects of tobacco smoke, ask your doctor for advice on how to quit.
Get to the gym
Whenever you take a jog around the track or pedal your way through a spin class, you strengthen your heart and lungs, and send a nourishing rush of oxygen-rich blood flowing to your skin. Regular exercise might be potent enough to reverse some signs of skin aging, research finds.
A 2014 study from McMaster University in Canada found that people who regularly exercise have a thinner, healthier stratum corneum — the outer layer of skin that normally thickens with age. They also have a thicker dermis — the layer beneath the epidermis that typically thins and loses its elasticity with age. In the study, the skin of active 60-somethings more closely resembled that of a 20 or 30 year old.
Skip the soda
When you eat cookies, cake, or candy, the ensuing sugar rush floods your body with insulin. This hormone brings down skyrocketing blood sugar levels, but it also promotes inflammation throughout your body and damages your skin’s support system. “Sugar binds to the elastic and collagen fibers that make skin look plump and youthful. Damage to these fibers means less support for your skin — and more wrinkles,” said Piliang.
Snooze for seven
Think of sleep as your skin’s fountain of youth. A restful night’s slumber gives your skin time to repair and renew itself. During those six to eight hours, collagen production ramps up and blood flows to your skin to give you a healthy glow.
To ensure more restful nights, keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Get your body into a sleep routine by going to bed at the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning.
March 22, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN