Be nice to your skin!
After all, it serves as customized body armor of sorts, protecting your internal organs from greater damage. Certainly, your skin can be bruised, cut, burned, or otherwise banged up, depending on what type of trouble you encounter or activities you’re involved in.
To add to the fun of skin health, your skin changes as you age. It often gets a little thinner and also develop various features such as moles, hair, or skin tags. It might grow more sensitive to hot or cold, and it also might grow spots that are dangerous, even potentially deadly.
That’s why it’s important to be nice to it and take care of it, just like you (hopefully) take care of the other organs in your body, from your liver to your heart. Skin cells do grow back but they can also be damaged.
Medical professionals are always happy to look at your skin regularly and offer recommendations to take care of it, especially dermatologists, who have received additional medical training in how to evaluate and treat it, much as a cardiologist focuses on heart care and maintenance.
There’s never a bad time to learn more about skin health but fall is an optimal time.
People are bundling up and putting away their summer apparel. They’re less worried about shorts and tanktops and more concerned what outerwear they need to start using to keep warm. People who are interested in outdoor activities may be worried less about sunscreen and more about how to cover themselves up to prevent frostbite. (Keep up the sunscreen though – even though the sun is out less it can still cause damage when hiking, skiing, or other cool-weather activities.)
Another opportunity to learn more about smart skin health this time of year is because November is National Healthy Skin Month. It has been observed by the American Academy of Dermatology Association since 1997.
The academy uses the month to offer information and resources to fellow dermatologists who want to get information out to their patients, and also provide info to the public. Since we all have skin, we all can benefit from some of these strategies. The official site even calls it “everyone awareness” since there are always healthy habits that all ages can try.
- Keep on using sunscreen on exposed skin, which blocks ultraviolet rays. Something with at least SPF-30 is recommended.
- Keep covered up if you’re out in the sun for a prolonged period, such as a hat or long-sleeved jacket.
- Stay hydrated. This can help your skin stay moist and reduce irritation. You don’t have to drink eight glasses of water, as was previously recommended, but you should drink beverages that have water in them throughout the day, such as tea and coffee.
- Get regular amounts of sleep, which can reduce stress, which can cause break-outs and irritation.
- Check your skin monthly for new moles or spots or changes to ones that are already present. Itching in a new spot or a rash could also be an area of concern.
- Visit a dermatologist on a regular basis for a more comprehensive exam. Some recommend an annual visit, but it could be more frequent if there’s a history of moles or other high-risk factors.
- Colder weather could also lead to more skin irritation, including psoriasis, so consider ways to reduce this, such as applying lotion or skin cream more often.
- Enjoy the sunlight. Even when following the previous precautions, you can and should go outside and enjoy fresh air and sunlight, which can provide Vitamin D and other mental boosts. Go on a walk or even sit outside.
Seniors should be especially cautious about exposure to the sun. Their skin is drier and more prone to being itchy and irritated. They’re at higher risk of cancers than someone younger. They also may have sustained more skin damage over the years, such as sunburns earlier in their life when there were less warnings about the risks of sun exposure.
The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that 1 in 5 Americans are likely to develop some sort of skin cancer by age 70.
Seniors are encouraged to take steps to keep their skin hydrated, which can include nightly face washes, daily but shorter showers, and installing a humidifier in their home.
They also may have new challenges keeping their internal temperature regulated – it may take them longer to warm up or cool down, which could be harmful if they’re outside for too long.
Besides following the previous list, seniors can take extra precautions to take care of their skin, such as wearing gloves when doing things like yardwork or gardening. This can block sunlight and also reduce possible exposure to other spots or moles on hands.
Another suggestion to help your skin is to cut back on items that contain fragrances, which could irritate drier skin. This could include everything from laundry detergent to skin cream. A dermatologist can recommend effective skin care lotions that don’t have a scent.
A dermatologist can also provide other useful advice for skin health, including how to perform an effective self-check for moles or other suspicious spots.