Skin change with age, becoming thinner, losing fat, and no longer looking as smooth and robust. Veins and bones can become more visible. Scratches, cuts, and bumps can take longer to heal, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). More bad news: “Years of sun tanning or being out in the sunlight for long time periods may lead to wrinkles, dryness, age spots, and even cancer.”
Ready for good news? There are things you can do to protect your skin and make it feel and look better, especially in the cold outdoor air, and dry indoor heated air, of winter.
The NIH recommends to apply moisturizing lotions, creams, or ointments daily, and to take fewer baths or showers. When bathing, use mild soap and warm water, which is less drying than hot water. (Don’t add bath oil to the water, which can make the bathtub dangerously slippery.) Using a humidifier can add needed moisture to a room to help hydrate skin.
Rough and scaly dry skin patches may be caused by not drinking enough fluids, smoking, feeling stress, and losing sweat and oil glands (common with aging).
Because more than half our bodies are composed of water, hydration is important in the winter, too, even when not sweating as much. Drinking water, and consuming water-rich fruits and vegetables can keep bodies hydrated inside and out.
Dry skin can also be caused by some health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease. Various medicines may also make skin itchy. The NIH adds that because older people have thinner skin, scratching can cause bleeding which can lead to infection. Consult your healthcare provider if skin is unbearably dry and itchy.
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