Caring for your skin and feet as you age

04/19/2016 | Sprenger Healthcare

It’s extremely important to take care of your skin – after all, it’s your body’s largest organ. Dr. Ferraro, President and CEO of Comprehensive Surgical Wound Care Consultants (CSWCC), recently shared tips for skin care as you age during an informative talk at Rose Lane Nursing and Rehabilitation. If you missed his presentation, don’t worry – we have the information for you!

Your skin plays a large role in the function of your body, as it offers protection to your internal organs, regulates your body temperature, communicates sensation, and balances your fluids and electrolytes.

As you age, you may notice a difference in the appearance of your skin; however, there’s more going on than cosmetic changes. Underneath the surface, more serious changes take place over time, including:

  • Loss of dermal thickness – Your skin gets thinner and is more prone to tears.
  • Decrease in fatty layer underneath skin – Your body can’t hold in heat as well.
  • A lesser amount of collagen fibers – This affects the elasticity of your skin.
  • Decline in the number and function of sweat glands – Not enough sweat causes dry skin.
  • Changes in blood vessels – Your skin has a lower blood supply, which causes decreased healing properties.

Skin care tips

How can you take care of your skin and combat these changes as you age? Most people already know to use moisturizing cream and avoid exposure from the sun to keep your skin healthy. However, here are some tips from Dr. Ferraro you may not already know:

  • Avoid baths: A prolonged period of soak time is not good for your skin, as it drains your oil glands and causes dry skin.
  • Avoid lotions with lanolin for daily use: Lanolin is an ingredient in some lotions that can build up actually cause breakdown of skin, if used daily.
  • Do not use band aids: Seniors should avoid using band aids, or any other adhesive on your skin, as this can cause tearing. Consult your doctor on how to properly dress a wound.

Foot care tips

When taking care of your skin, you should pay extra attention to your feet. Your feet are very vulnerable to injury, which can be high risk for seniors. With a decreased blood supply to your feet as you age, the healing properties are diminished and a simple foot ulcer can lead to amputation and even death. Older adults are also at risk of Neuropathy, which can cause loss of feeling or weakness in hands and feet. This is a common cause of foot injury.

We want to help you keep your feet in top shape and injury-free. Follow these tips for taking care of your feet:

  • Inspect your feet daily: Everyone should inspect their feet as they get older on a daily basis – especially people diagnosed with diabetes. When inspecting your feet, check for any discoloration. This could mean there is a deep tissue injury from pressure. Consult your doctor if you see any discoloration or any other wounds.
  • Choose the correct type of shoes: Choose comfortable shoes made of soft leather or athletic material. You should never wear a new pair of shoes for more than two hours at a time and you should always inspect your feet after wearing a new pair of shoes. Take extra precautions when wearing sandals or open toed shoes.
  • Choose the correct socks: You should always wear socks with your shoes. When choosing socks, avoid synthetic materials and wear cotton or nonirritating blends. Additionally, pay attention to the fit of the top of your socks. Tight fitting socks can cause pressure ulcers on your ankles or legs.

Visit your doctor regularly and ask what you can do to care for your skin. Seniors should have their feet checked each time they visit their doctor. See your doctor right away if you develop an area of skin with poor color, a blister, a callus or a sore.

Dr. Ferraro provides wound care at three of our Sprenger Health Care communities: Rose Lane Nursing and Rehabilitation, Grande Village Retirement Village, and Heather Knoll Nursing and Rehabilitation.