It looks like spring is just around the corner, which means we’ll soon be enjoying warmer weather and more time with the sun. Now is the time to get yourself (and your skin) ready.
As we age, our skin changes. Genetics and the environment are two major reasons for this (Touhy, Jett, 2012). Skin gets thinner and dryer, therefore there is less elasticity (its ability to bounce back), tiny blood vessels under the skin are more easily damaged and seen. If you’ve ever wondered why you seem to bruise easily, thinning skin is the common culprit.
Other changes we see as we move into our senior years, is the length of time it takes for our skin to heal. For adults over 50, the skin takes longer to repair itself. Touhy et al. (2012) estimate that the outer layer of skin (the epidermis) can take over a month to regenerate. This means things like skin tears, cuts, scrapes, or wounds take longer to heal in comparison to younger adults. However, keep in mind that although bruising and skin tears are common skin problems in older adults, they are not considered to be “normal” signs of aging. See your healthcare provider if you’re finding multiple new bruises on your skin, or skin tears that have taken a very long time (over a month) to show significant signs of healing.
What can you do to improve the health of your skin right now?:
Drink water – Skin needs hydration. You don’t need to go overboard – 8 glasses of water per day isn’t for everyone. If you don’t remember drinking water in the last 6 hours, grab a cup and enjoy. Not only is it good for your skin, but also for your overall health.
Get plenty of rest – It’s not called “beauty sleep” for nothing. The British Association of Dermatologists conducted a sleep study in 2014 that examined the relationship between poor sleep and visible signs of ageing in the skin. What did they discover? Sleep is magical. The body performs a number of functions while we sleep – it repairs damaged cells, produces collagen (which combats wrinkles), facilitates blood flow to the face (for a glowing complexion) and even minimizes swelling under the eyes.
Eat well – a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, grains and lean protein is good for your overall health and has positive effects on your skin too.
Stop Smoking – smoking is damaging to your overall health and it is also known to cause wrinkles.
Sunscreen – older adults are especially susceptible to more serious effects of skin damage. Too much sun can not only cause your skin to look leathery, rough and mottled, but older adults are at higher risk for skin cancer (National Institutes of Health, 2015). Touhy et al. (2012) recommend older adults do the following to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays:
- Avoid mid-day sun (10a.m.-3p.m.)
- Apply sunscreen (15 sun protection factor (SPF) or higher) before going outside and re-apply it as necessary
- If you’re taking certain medications (i.e.: certain antibiotics) you should avoid exposing your skin to the sun for at least the course of your antibiotic treatment
- Be sure to wear clothing (and sunglasses) that will cover areas like the top of your head while working or exercising outside
Checkup – take a few moments to check your skin – look for unusual skin pigment, lesions, tags, moles or slow healing skin. See your doctor if you suspect anything unusual.
Spring is coming just in time to prepare your skin for (what probably will be) a long, hot summer. Indulge in a little self-care that will help you look good and feel great!