Skin, the largest organ in the body, plays a vital role in maintaining health and wellness. It protects our bodies from infection, and— especially important during the hot summer months—our skin cools our bodies through perspiration.
As we age our cells are not able to regenerate as they did before in order to repair skin damage, so seniors must work harder to keep and maintain healthy skin all year long. The changing of seasons can be particularly tough on skin.
This summer, as senior living moves out-of-doors, older adults need to be particularly conscious of their skin care.
Summer skin care steps for healthier senior living.
More than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with a cancer or melanoma of the skin every year, and half of the adult population will suffer at least one sunburn— a major contributor to both premature aging and skin cancer— every year.
There are three simple steps you can take to protect your skin from over-exposure this summer.
- Be aware of how much time you spend in direct sunlight. More than 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are caused by the sun. Prolonged exposure to the sun (and its potent ultraviolet rays) causes the skin to dry out, roughen, and develop brown spots and wrinkles.
- Stay properly covered when you’re outside for extended periods of time. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing are a must.
- Drink plenty of water. Prolonged exposure to the sun dries out your skin, and getting enough water can help keep your skin hydrated and healthy. During the summer, replace the water and nutrients you sweat out in the heat by limiting your consumption of alcohol and caffeine and supplementing your daily water intake with electrolyte-filled sports drinks.
Even seniors who are careful with their skin care regimens sometimes spend too much time in the sun without adequate protection, especially as the weather grows balmier.
Effective senior skin care tips for treating sun-damaged skin.
When you have sunburn, you want fast relief for the pain and inflammation.
- calamine lotion to reduce itching
- aloe gels or sunburn creams and sprays to relieve tenderness and pain
- cool compresses to soothe the affected area
- dusting powder to reduce chafing
For a more natural remedy, you can try making a poultice or compress from ingredients in your own kitchen:
- You can make your own sunburn compress with a clean towel and a cold water solution. Just mix cold water with a little bit of skim milk, antiseptic powder, witch hazel, white vinegar, or baking soda.
- Plain yogurt or a paste of cornstarch and water applied directly on burned skin can be affective pain relievers. Allow the mixture to sit on the skin for a few minutes, then rinse with cool water.
- Cucumber slices aren’t just for salads and facials. Thin slices of chilled cucumber, potato, or apple can also soothe burns.
- If you’re out of aloe, you can make your own substitute by boiling lettuce in water. Put a quarter wedge of lettuce in a pot and let it boil. Strain the mixture, reserving the water and discarding the lettuce leaves. Allow the water to cool for several hours in the refrigerator, then apply the cold solution directly to the burn with sterile gauze or cotton balls.
- If you’ve skipped your face in your sunscreen application, tea bags that have been steeped in cold water can stop the stinging of a burn on the delicate skin around your eyes.
Image Credit: Tiberiu Ana