Winter is here! Cold weather can bring some of our favorite things, like cozy sweaters and nights in with hot chocolate, but the dry air can cause problems for our senior loved ones. As we're cranking up the central heating and making hot drinks to keep warm, it becomes more difficult for aging skin to retain moisture.
Xerosis is when the skin loses moisture causing it to become dry. It is most often found on the lower legs, arms, scalp, and hands but can occur on any area of the body. The affected skin surface may appear split, cracked, and look flaky, and scaly.
The older population is more prone to xerosis because they have reduced sebaceous gland activity and sweat gland activity, which are the two processes that help moisturize the skin. Also, health conditions in elderly patients, such as nutritional deficiency, malignancy, anti-androgen medications, and diuretic therapy, increase the likelihood of getting xerosis.
Dry skin can be uncomfortable, especially when the xerosis causes itching and develops into a form of eczema. Eczema is a skin condition consisting of red, dry, itchy patches of skin. The intense itching can lead to loss of sleep and if left untreated, skin infections. Ensuring xerosis is treated for yourself or a loved one is essential.
To improve dry skin, try these tips:
A dermatologist may recommend moisturizers after they examine your skin. They may prescribe topical and/or oral anti-itch medications. These will help reduce itching, enhance the skin barrier, prevent moisture from escaping the skin, and reduce inflammation. If you notice something on your skin or the skin of a loved one, or you or your loved one have itchy skin, don't hesitate to contact your dermatologist.
To have a dermatology specialist perform an on-site consultation for a loved one in a nursing facility or assisted living facility, call 516-418-9078. More information on eldercare dermatology is here.