Ageing skin is more susceptible to dryness, as it thins and becomes more fragile. This is due to the underlying cells becoming less effective at replacing themselves (cell turnover), skin thinning, and a reduced capacity of cells to retain moisture and produce oils. Ultimately dry skin can cause itching, which can perpetuate the problem by irritating skin further.
Dry skin in the elderly can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, or be simply related to age, but whatever the cause, dry skin in the elderly needs to be treated preventatively.
Firm, supple skin from the inside out
Production of certain hydrating molecules decreases as we age – these molecules are inbuilt in skin to hold moisture, keep collagen production up, and help skin retain its firmness and strength.
As we age, production of these molecules slows considerably, resulting in more fragile skin. Sebaceous glands reduce their production of oils, also contributing to drier, less elastic skin. These factors all contribute to dry skin in the elderly.
We have dermal treatments and can treat age-related drying skin at our specialist dermatology clinic.
Elements that contribute to dry skin
Dry skin is not necessarily caused by these elements, but can be contributed to if a problem like thin skin and reduced wound-healing ability already exists.
- Environmental (air conditioning, heating, dry air)
- Certain medications (diuretics for high blood pressure, which force a loss of fluids)
- Some medical conditions (thyroid, cardiovascular and kidney conditions)
- Hot water, scrubbing, soaps (washes off oils without moisturiser applied immediately afterwards)
- Antibacterial cleansers and other alcohol-containing skin applications
- Drying, skin-damaging activities such as smoking and sunbathing
How to prevent or manage dry skin in the elderly
- Wash gently
- Avoid very hot baths or showers, frequent bathing, and don’t scrub
- Use mild cleansers that are labelled hypoallergenic
- Don’t overwash
- Avoid alcohol-based products
- Keep hydrated from the inside and out (sufficient fluids)
- Moisturise skin with a fragrance-free moisturiser
- Don’t scratch
We can help.