According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), taking good care of your skin is essential for good overall health as you grow older. As we age, our skin becomes thinner, exposing veins and bones. Skin problems like scratches, cuts, and bruises can take longer to heal, and some medications can cause bruising. Years of exposure to the sun can begin to take a toll on elasticity as well as cause wrinkles, age spots, and dryness, and smoking can further exacerbate these issues.
Here are some tips for caring for aging skin to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles as well as keep the body’s largest organ healthy.
Protect it from the sun. People of all ages should protect their skin from the sun, but doing so is essential for healthy skin as we grow older. Always wear sunscreen when you’re going to be outside, and take extra precautions by wearing clothing that covers the skin. Sunscreen is essential even on cloudy days, and even in winter. Try to stay out of the sun altogether between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when its rays are strongest.
Check the skin monthly. Skin cancer is common in the U.S., and anyone of any skin color can get it, although those with fair skin are at a particularly high risk. Each month, check your entire body for signs of skin cancer, including new growths and sores that don’t heal. Know the ABCs of skin cancer: Asymmetry in moles; Borders of moles that are irregular; Color changes or a range of colors in a mole; Diameter larger than a pencil eraser; and Evolving moles that are changing in size, shape, or color or those which are bleeding or itching. Also keep an eye out for unexplained bruising. See the doctor right away if you notice any new or changing skin issues.
Stay hydrated and moisturized. Dehydration can take a serious toll on your skin, making it dry, itchy, and more susceptible to injury. In addition to drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, hydrate the skin directly with high quality, unscented lotions like Aquaphor or Cera Ve. Use a mild, unscented soap, and shower or bathe in warm–not hot–water. If your living environment has low humidity, consider a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to the air.
Make healthy lifestyle changes. A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables helps keep all of your organs–including your skin–in good shape. Quitting smoking, which is terrible for the skin, can help reduce dryness and wrinkles. Plenty of exercise promotes optimal blood flow for better-looking and healthier skin.
Skin problems can be serious when you’re older, so visiting a dermatologist each year for a full checkup–or paying a visit as soon as you notice a problem–can help reduce the risk of serious illness or infection and keep your skin healthy for years to come.