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Skin Conditions in the Elderly



Your skin changes with age. It becomes thinner, loses fat, and no longer looks as plump and smooth as it once did. Your veins and bones can be seen more easily. Scratches, cuts, or bumps can take longer to heal. Years of sun tanning or being out in the sunlight for long periods of time may lead to dryness, wrinkles, age spots, and maybe even cancer as you age. But, there are things you can do to protect your skin and make it feel and look better! 

Dry Skin and Itching

Many older people suffer from dry spots on their skin. They are often on their lower legs, elbows, and lower arms. Dry skin patches feel rough and scaly. There are many possible reasons for dry skin, including:

  • Not drinking enough liquids
  • Spending too much time in the sun or sun tanning
  • Smoking
  • Living in a region with particularly dry air
  • Losing sweat and oil glands, which is common with age
  • Stress
  • Health problems that may result in medications that make skin itchy

Here are some ways to help dry, itchy skin:

  • Use moisturizers like lotions, creams, or ointments daily
  • Try using a humidifier
  • Take fewer baths or showers and use milder soaps

Age Spots and Wrinkles

Over time, our skin naturally begins to wrinkle, and age spots and skin tags begin to appear. Exposure to the sun plays a large part in this progression. Here are some ways to naturally slow the aging process of your skin:

  • Wear sunscreen every day
  • Wear hats, visors, and sun-protective clothing
  • Avoid tanning, indoors and outdoors
  • Limit your time in the sun daily


Skin Cancer

Anyone, of any skin color, can get skin cancer. The main cause of skin cancer is the sun. Sunlamps and tanning booths can also cause skin cancer. There are 3 types of skin cancer.

Two types, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, grow slowly and rarely spread to other areas of the body. These types of cancer are usually found on parts on the skin that are most often exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, arms, and hands.That being said, they can still appear anywhere on your skin. The third and most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma, which is rarer than the other types, but can spread everywhere, including to your organs.

Check your skin, moles, and age spots for signs of skin cancer by using the "ABCDE's" method:

  • A - Asymmetry (make sure one half of the growth doesn't looks different from the other half)
  • B - Borders that are irregular
  • C - Color changes or more than one color
  • D - Diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser
  • E - Evolving; This means the growth changes in size, shape, symptoms (itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or shades of color

Remember to see your doctor right away if are showing any of these signs, or you are suspicious of any developing skin conditions! 


Summer is here, and although some sun is good for you, limit your time in the sun and use sunscreen to keep your skin as healthy as possible as you continue to age.

Written by: Care Manager - Kelly Foster LPN, CM

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