December 11, 2018
Dry winter skin is a common problem for many elderly adults because the harsh conditions can leave them feeling itchy and irritated. In many cases, the dry skin cracks which can be uncomfortable and even painful. Temperature extremes, from cold air outside to heated air inside, only makes things worse.
Winter skin care is quite important for those aging adults that are limited physically in caring for themselves. Many of them have family caregivers or elderly care providers that help them with bathing, dressing, and grooming when normal skin care routines take place. That’s why family caregivers must take extra steps to combat their aging relative’s dry winter skin to provide them with relief.
Here are some helpful tips for family caregivers and elderly care providers on maintaining healthy winter skin in elderly adults:
-Stop blasting the furnace at all hours. While it’s tempting to crank up the heat during the winter months, the dry air is harmful to skin over time. Instead, set the thermostat at a reasonable temperature (around 72 degrees) and help the aging adult dress warmly and appropriately for the season.
-Use a humidifier to moisten the air. A humidifier, a device that sends tin water droplets into the air, can boost the humidity levels in a room. An elderly person’s skin will be better hydrated with a little moisture in the air.
-Avoid hot baths and showers. Choosing a lukewarm shower or bath can help preserve skin health immensely during the winter. The hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and makes it harder for it to retain moisture.
-Use gentle, fragrance-free body cleansers. Soap, body wash and other cleansers are often filled with harsh dyes, fragrances and other chemicals. These can leave the skin dry and itchy. Instead, elderly adults should use products specifically labeled as gentle.
-Pat dry after a bath or shower. Family caregivers and elderly care providers that are assisting seniors with baths and showers should pat them dry with a soft and fluffy towel, rather than scrub or wipe them dry. This method leaves some moisture on the skin, keeping it soft and supple.
-Apply a good moisturizer after bathing. Seniors can lock in moisture when they use a moisturizing cream after a bath or shower. They will likely need help from their family caregiver or elderly care provider to apply it evenly. Of course, seniors should not forget lip balm to avoid chapped and cracked lips.
-Moisturize hands frequently. The hands are the most abused part of the body when it comes to exposure to harsh elements. Plus, people wash hands many times per day, especially during cold and flu season. Unfortunately, this healthy habit dries them out quickly. Seniors should moisturize their hands after every wash and again before going to sleep at night.
When it comes to seniors and their skin health, it’s really a group effort to keep the skin moist and healthy instead of dry and painful. Family caregivers, elderly care providers and the elderly adults themselves can support and help each other with positive winter skin care.