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How to Help Seniors Love their Skin this Summer

Skin protection is essential at any age but becomes even more critical for seniors.  A senior skincare routine can address these changes and help keep the skin healthy and vibrant. By focusing on prevention and a healthy lifestyle, seniors can help minimize the effects of aging on their skin and enjoy healthy skin throughout their golden years.  Allowing them plenty of opportunities to go for a boat ride on the Mississippi in Elk River or on the Rum River in Anoka.  

Seniors staying safe in the sun this summer.

Bright summer days bring outdoor activities with friends and fun in the sun with grandkids that can instantly uplift the spirit. Now that seniors will be enjoying time outdoors, paying close attention to summer skin care is essential. This will help make the time spent outside more pleasurable and keep skin better protected. Minnesota has the 3rd highest incidence of Melanoma in the USA so stay vigilant!  

How Skin Changes with Age

Due to the aging process, older adults often have more sensitive skin.  How the skin ages depends on various factors, including heredity, lifestyle choices, and the environment. These changes are a natural part of aging and usually nothing to worry about. 

Thinning: Skin becomes thinner, more fragile, and less elastic. This is due to a decrease in the production of collagen and elastin, the proteins that give skin its structure and elasticity.

Dryness: As the skin’s natural oil production slows with age, it can become drier and more prone to itching and irritation.

Age spots: Flat, brown spots can appear on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, and arms.

Wrinkles: A decrease in collagen and elastin production, repeated exposure to the sun, and other environmental factors can cause wrinkles.

Bruising: Aging skin is more prone to bruising due to thinning of the blood vessel walls.

Skin Care Suggestions for Seniors

Protecting the skin is important at any age, but it becomes even more critical for seniors. A senior skincare routine can address these changes and help keep the skin healthy and vibrant. By focusing on prevention and a healthy lifestyle, seniors can help minimize the effects of aging on their skin and enjoy healthy skin throughout their golden years.

Taking some steps to protect their skin can help seniors enjoy sunny days without worry:

  • Regular dermatologist visits: Monitor changes and identify potential issues early on. If prone to moles, regular checking is essential. 
  • Apply sunscreen indoors or outdoors: Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to help to protect the skin from the sun's intense UV rays. Even a short walk to and from the car or sitting by a sunny window can cause some damage. If outdoors, reapply every two hours and after water activities at the lake in White Bear Lake or Chisago.  
  • Wear protective clothing: Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats can help shield skin from the sun. Tightly woven sun-blocking shirts and pants are a good option.
  • Plan summer fun to avoid peak sun hours: The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it's best to avoid spending extended periods of time outdoors during these hours. Schedule activities for early morning or late afternoon.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help keep skin hydrated and healthy.
  • Moisturize daily: Moisturizing daily can help prevent dryness and keep skin looking smooth and supple. 
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking can accelerate the skin’s aging process and cause premature wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help provide the nutrients needed to keep skin healthy.

Skin Cancer and Seniors

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and seniors are particularly susceptible. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 50 percent of all new cases of skin cancer occur in people over the age of 65. It is also the most preventable type of cancer, making senior skincare even more important.

The good news is that when caught early, skin cancers such as basal cells or squamous cells are highly treatable by removal. The cure rate for basal cells is over 95 percent and about 90 percent for squamous cells.

Melanoma is more likely to spread to other parts of the body and can be more difficult to treat if not caught early.

How to Identify Skin Cancer

Unusual skin growths often happen in areas regularly exposed to the sun. Many doctors include a skin check as part of a regular exam and recommend monthly home checks. Here are a few things to look for when checking the skin at home:

  • A new mole or growth on the skin that is a weird shape or has different colors or shades
  • Any mole or growth that changes in size, shape, or color
  • A mole or growth that is larger than a pencil eraser
  • A sore that does not heal within a few weeks
  • A spot or growth that is itchy, painful, or bleeds

While not all skin changes or growths are cancerous, having any concerns checked out by a doctor as soon as possible is always a good idea.

When to See a Doctor

Keep an eye out for any changes in the skin and seek medical attention if anything looks suspicious. If you notice any new moles or growths, changes in existing moles, or any unusual skin changes, it's important to get them checked by a dermatologist. A complete skin exam will help identify any skin spots that are normal and ones that should be watched. Not only is early detection key to the successful treatment of skin cancer, but it can also offer peace of mind.  

You may also want to talk to your doctor about Vitamin D production in your body if you’re concerned that sunscreen may reduce this necessary vitamin. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones–especially important for seniors. Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect you from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break. Some studies had shown using sunscreen reduces vitamin D production.  However, a review by The National Study of Medicine demonstrated a low risk of sunscreen preventing Vitamin D production.  Your doctor may be the best person to help you weigh any risks you may have.  

Questions to Ask a Doctor

If a senior is worried about skin changes, or if there is a family history of skin cancer, it's important to talk to a doctor about any concerns. Some questions to ask include the following:

  • Should they have regular exams to check for skin cancer?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer?
  • What can they do to reduce the risk of skin cancer?
  • What should they look for when examining skin? 
  • Are there any lifestyle changes that can improve skin health?
  • Does Sunscreen impact how my body develops Vitamin D?

It's never too late for seniors to start caring for their skin. Even if skincare wasn’t a priority in the past, now is a great time to start.  Family caregivers play a vital role in helping seniors remember to keep their skin safe.  


Basic Information about Skin Cancer, CDC

Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics, Skin Cancer Foundation

Skin Care and Aging, National Institute on Aging

Sunscreen and Vitamin D,  National Library on Medicine


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