Younger-Looking Skin

Tips for Younger-Looking Skin for Seniors

Despite what hundreds of infomercials would have you believe, there is no fountain of youth for skin. No pill or lotion will erase 20 years from your face overnight.

While you can’t stop or even slow down the internal aging process, to some extent you can control external factors that affect premature aging. Protecting your skin from the sun and quitting smoking are a good start.

Once you’ve noticed the signs of aging, you can take some steps to minimize them.


Combating fine lines and wrinkles

By our 40s and 50s, our skin has lost firmness, spring and moisture. We see fine lines and wrinkles.

Pale skin tends to wrinkle earlier than dark skin. People with pale skin also tend to develop more wrinkles and fine lines. When lines develop in dark skin, the lines tend to be deeper.

What causes wrinkles?

  • Constant muscle movement. Lines and wrinkles may be deep in areas with lots of muscle movement, such as on the forehead or around the mouth.
  • Sun, tanning beds and sun lamps. Lying outdoors in the sun, using a tanning bed or sun lamp, and even just being outdoors without sunscreen can cause wrinkles. Exposure to UV rays accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which causes many people to see wrinkles and fine lines before they reach their 40s and 50s.
  • Smoking. People who smoke expose their skin to toxins that accelerate the aging of their skin. Repeated puckering to inhale can cause deep lines around the lips. Frequent squinting to avoid getting smoke in one’s eyes can cause noticeable crow’s feet.

What you can do at home?

The following are simple measures that you can take to help diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Use moisturizer developed especially for the face. This plumps up fine lines, which makes them less noticeable. Moisturizer is the secret ingredient in many anti-aging products that promise fewer wrinkles.
  • Wear sunscreen every day–even on overcast days. This helps to protect your skin from further damage. Apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. For best results, you should apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that offers a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater and broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection.
  • Repair skin at night. Gently wash your face every night and then apply a product that contains retinol, followed by a good facial moisturizer. The retinol can stimulate the skin to make collagen, and the moisturizer seals in water.
  • Stop smoking. Many people notice significant improvements after they stop smoking.
  • Eat a healthful diet. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other healthful foods can lead to healthier skin. Be sure to include some protein in your diet. Our skin is made of protein, so some protein is necessary for healthy skin.

What your doctor can do

At-home versions of chemical peels and microdermabrasion are on the market, but the active ingredients in these at-home treatments are much less potent than you would find at your dermatologist’s office.

Similarly, women who see results with over-the-counter cosmetics usually have very fine lines that sit near the surface of the skin. Non-prescription products generally work by sloughing off the outermost layer of skin or hydrating the skin to plump it. Wrinkles return when you stop using the product.

Thanks to ongoing research, dermatologists offer several treatments that can diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and even deep lines. These treatments include:

    • Prescription-strength wrinkle creams, serums and lotions, such as:


Source: American Academy of Dermatology


Reducing age spots

“Age spot” refers to various spots and bumps that appear on the skin with age. Some of these spots and bumps are harmless. Others can be a sign of skin cancer.

Most age spots develop on skin that has been badly damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Age spots also appear on people who use tanning beds and sun lamps. The cause of one type of age spot, seborrheic keratosis (SK), is not known. Some studies suggest that sun exposure plays a role.

What you can do at home

Sometimes what appears to be an age spot is actually melanoma or another type of skin cancer. With early detection and proper treatment, skin cancer has a high cure rate. That’s why it’s important to get any age spots checked by a dermatologist.

If your skin shows plenty of sun damage, using an over-the-counter product to diminish age spots may not be wise. It can delay diagnosis of a skin cancer. If your dermatologist gives you the OK, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Apply sunscreen every day to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. You will not see results from a treatment for age spots if you do not protect your skin from UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that offers a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater and broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection.
  • Look at the list of ingredients on a fade cream or similar product. Some fade creams and bleaching treatments are available without a prescription. They generally contain hydroquinone. Other products that may help fade age spots are called skin brighteners, lighteners or whiteners. These products usually contain soy, licorice, or kojic acid.
    Prescription-strength products tend to be more effective than products you can buy without a prescription, even if the ingredient list looks similar.
  • Products from outside the United States may contain an inaccurate list of ingredients. Some imported products contain mercury; others include high-potency steroids. While illegal, these products do find their way into the United States. Using a product that contains a high-potency steroid can cause paper-thin skin, acne and stretch marks. Some imported products contain much higher levels of hydroquinone than currently allowed in the United States. These high levels can irritate the skin and cause visible, light-colored halos to appear on the treated skin. To avoid buying imported products, it’s best to purchase them directly through a dermatologist.

What your doctor can do

Many patients say they do not see the results they want from products available without a prescription. Dermatologists offer the following treatments for those age spots that people often call “liver spots” or “sun spots”:

  • Bleaching treatments (prescription strength)
  • Chemical peeling
  • Cryosurgery (freezing)
  • Dermabrasion or microdermabrasion
  • Laser skin resurfacing

More detail about some of these procedures is available here .

Source: American Academy of Dermatology


Treating more-advanced signs of aging

Using the latest advances, dermatologists successfully treat wrinkles, lax skin, age spots, spider veins and more. All cosmetic procedures, including microdermabrasion and chemical peels, should be performed by a board certified physician or under the doctor’s direct supervision. This greatly reduces the risk of complications.

Here are some of the services a dermatologist can provide:

Laser treatments/photorejuvenation. Light energy delivered by BroadBand Light (BBL) technology gently heats the upper layers of the skin. The heat absorbed by the targeted areas stimulates the skin cells to generate new collagen. This process helps restore the skin to its natural stage. The photothermal energy also targets and eliminates many of the fine vessels that cause redness and the unwanted melanin responsible for pigmented lesions.

Using different wavelengths and filters, a dermatologist can treat a broad range of skin conditions caused by skin aging and sun exposure, including:

  • Pigmented lesions
  • Skin firming
  • Vascular conditions
  • Skin resurfacing
  • Wrinkle reduction

Botox. BOTOX® Cosmetic is a simple, nonsurgical, physician-administered treatment that can temporarily smooth moderate to severe frown lines between the brows in people ages 18 to 65. It is the only treatment of its type approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A Botox treatment lasts about 10 minutes and involves a few tiny injections. Within days, you’ll see a noticeable improvement in frown lines between the brows. Results vary, but the improvement can last up to 4 months.

BOTOX Cosmetic is a purified protein produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, which reduces the activity of the muscles that have caused those frown lines between the brows to form over time.

Fillers. Fillers like JUVÉDERM®, Restylane® and Restylane Lyft® are injected into the skin to restore volume to correct moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, such as lines from your nose to the corners of your mouth. Fillers offer natural-looking results by restoring your skin’s fullness.

They are composed of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in your skin that helps provide fullness and elasticity. Over time, skin loses hyaluronic acid. As it diminishes, skin loses volume, increasing the chances of wrinkles and folds to appear.

Juvéderm is intended to correct moderate to severe facial wrinkles and “nasolabial folds” (laugh lines). It is the only filler FDA-approved to last up to one year with only one treatment. Like Juvéderm, Restylane is well tolerated, nonsurgical, and long lasting (usually around six months). Restylane Lyft has larger gel particles and is intended to be injected deeper within the skin.

Chemical peels. “Chemical peel” is a general classification for a number of chemical treatments used to exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin. They improve fine wrinkles, small scars, and overall complexion. Peels range from gentle treatments to those that produce dramatic results. Different types include:

  • Glycolic peel: A superficial chemical peel. Immediate results include tightness and improved feel of the skin. Over time pores shrink, brown lesions fade, and the overall texture of the skin improves.
  • Vitalize peel: A slightly more intense chemical peel that offers faster results.
  • TCA peel: These peels can vary in intensity from very mild to very dramatic results. Benefits include wrinkle and scar reduction, decreasing the signs of sun damage and improving pore size and complexion.
  • Jessner’s peel: Designed to remove superficial layers of skin, it also tends to decrease oil production and open clogged pores.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

Healthy Skin

Healthy Skin Tips for Seniors

If you are 50 or older, a yearly full-body skin cancer examination by a dermatologist could save your life. The risk of developing skin cancer appears to increase significantly around 50. With early detection and proper treatment, the cure rate for skin cancer averages 95 percent.

Learn more about skin cancer and other skin conditions.

  • Is it a mole or melanoma?– How to tell the difference between different marks on your skin and what to do if they look suspicious.
  • How to perform skin self-exams – Follow these steps to check your skin for signs of sun damage. Early detection is crucial to treating any kind of skin condition.
  • Dry, itchy skin and rashes – As we age, our skin becomes thinner and drier. Find out how to keep skin hydrated and effectively treat conditions like psoriasis and rosacea.

Is it a mole or melanoma?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a mark on your skin is a mole, an age spot, or a sign of a more serious condition. Here are some ways to tell the difference and what to do if you spot something suspicious.

Moles

Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few. Adults with light skin may have anywhere between 10 to 40 moles. You should not be overly worried about your moles, but remember that few benign moles develop after 30 years of age.

A mole on your body has these traits:

  • One color – Often brown, but a mole can be tan, black, red, pink, blue, skin-toned or colorless
  • Round in shape
  • Flat or slightly raised
  • Looks the same from month to month

Your moles may not look alike. Even on the same person, moles can differ in size, shape or color. Moles can have hair. Some moles will change slowly over time, possibly even disappearing.

Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. They develop on the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles and palms and even under the nails.

Melanoma

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can grow in or near a mole. If it’s caught early and treated, melanoma can be cured. The first sign of melanoma is often a change to a mole or a new mole on your skin. Checking your skin regularly can help you find melanoma early.

Melanoma is considered the most lethal form of skin cancer because it can rapidly spread to the lymph system and internal organs. If you see a mole or new spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, see a dermatologist immediately.

A – Asymmetry . One half is unlike the other half.

B – Border . An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.

C – Color . Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black; is sometimes red, white or blue.

D – Diameter . Melanomas are usually greater than the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but some may be smaller.

E – Evolving . A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

Non-melanoma skin cancers

More than two million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year, and that’s just in the United States . Besides melanoma, there are two other common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It most often appears on skin that gets a lot of sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, hands and arms. You will find BCCs on other parts of the body as well.

BCC often grows slowly. It may look like a:

  • Reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal
  • Flesh-colored (or pink, red or brown) pearl-shaped lump
  • Scar that feels waxy — may be skin-colored, white or yellow

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a very common type of skin cancer. It often appears on skin that gets a lot of sun, such as an ear, face, bald scalp, neck or arm. But it can appear elsewhere. Too much sun is often the cause, but it is not the only one. SCC can appear on skin that was badly burned, had lots of radiation (such as x-rays) or was exposed to strong chemicals.

SCC often has a reddish color. Without treatment, it can grow deeply. If this happens, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. This can be deadly. SCC often looks like a:

  • Hard (scaly or crusty) reddish bump, patch or pearl-shaped growth
  • Open sore that itches and bleeds; it can heal and return
  • Scaly patch on the lip; skin on the lip can get thick

If it is caught early and properly treated, skin cancer can be cured. A dermatologist selects treatment after considering the type of skin cancer, where it appears on the body, whether it’s aggressive, the stage of the cancer and the patient’s health.

Actinic Keratoses

Actinic keratoses (AKs) are dry, scaly, rough-textured patches or lesions that form on the outermost layer of the skin after years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, such as sunlight. These lesions typically range in color from skin-toned to reddish brown and in size from that of a pinhead to larger than a quarter. Occasionally, a lesion grows to resemble an animal horn and is called a “cutaneous horn.”

It is important that anyone with AKs be under a dermatologist’s care. AKs are considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer and have the potential to progress to squamous cell carcinoma. Anyone who develops AKs has extensive sun-damaged skin. This makes one more susceptible to other forms of skin cancer, including melanoma.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology


How to perform skin self-exams

Early detection is key when it comes to skin cancer. You can help protect yourself with regular at-home body inspections. Here’s how:

  • Schedule regular inspections. Check all of your moles every six months, especially if you have a lot of them or have a personal or family history of skin cancer. See a dermatologist once a year for a routine full-body check.
  • Be familiar with your moles, including their location, size and color.
  • Look for new or changing moles. It’s normal to develop new moles into your early 20s, but not beyond. Pay attention to any new growths or moles that have changed in size, color or shape.
  • Take photos. If you have many moles, keeping up with potential changes is difficult. One way to remedy that is to take photos during your 6-month inspections. Save and date them on a computer and review as needed. You may find a “scary” mole that has always been there or find out that it actually is new.
  • Beware of pink or black. Normal moles and other benign skin growths typically are varying shades of tan to brown. Melanomas may be black or less commonly pink, while other skin cancers tend to be pink and often are scaly. See your dermatologist if you notice a pink or black lesion.
  • Check “hidden” spots. Many people forget to check areas they can’t see easily. Be sure to check the soles of your feet and genital area. Ask a partner or friend to look over your back. Get a hairdresser to inspect your scalp. Skin cancers can appear even in areas where the sun doesn’t shine.

Dry, itchy skin and rashes

Many older people suffer from dry skin, often on their lower legs, elbows and lower arms. The skin becomes dry when it loses too much water or oil. Anyone can get dry skin, but as we age, our skin becomes thinner and drier.

Because older people have thinner skin, scratching dry patches can cause bleeding that can lead to infection. Some medicines make the skin itchier. The itching can be bad enough to cause sleep problems.

By our 40s, many people need to use a good moisturizer every day. Lotions, creams, or ointments can soothe dry, itchy skin. They should be used every day. Try taking fewer baths and using milder soap to help your dry skin. Warm water is better than hot water for your skin. Some people find that a humidifier helps. If your skin is very dry and itchy, see your doctor.

Rashes

Rashes are generally caused by skin irritation, which can have many causes. A rash is generally a minor problem that may go away with home treatment. In some cases a rash does not go away or the skin may become so irritated that medical care is needed.

In adults, rashes are often caused by contact with a substance that irritates the skin. The rash usually starts within 48 hours after contact. You may experience mild redness of the skin or a rash of small red bumps. A more severe reaction may cause swelling, redness and larger blisters.

Common causes include poisonous plants; soaps, detergents, shampoos or cosmetics; jewelry or fabrics; new tools, appliances or other objects; and latex.

Psoriasis

Psoriasisis a long-lasting disease that develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks. The body doesn’t shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear. It is not contagious.

Psoriasis can begin at any age. By age 40, most people who will get psoriasis, about 75%, have psoriasis. Another common time for psoriasis to begin is between 50 and 60 years of age.
What you see and feel depends on the type of psoriasis you have:

  • Plaque: Causes thick patches of skin that are covered with silvery-white scale.
  • Guttate: Causes small spots that can show up all over the skin.
  • Pustular: Causes pus-filled bumps that usually appear on the foot or hand.
  • Inverse: Develops in areas where skin touches skin, such as the armpit.
  • Erythrodermic: Can cause the skin to look like it is badly burned.

Treatment can reduce signs and symptoms of psoriasis. Some people see their skin completely clear.

Thanks to ongoing research, there are many treatments for psoriasis. It is important to work with a dermatologist to find a treatment that works for you and fits your lifestyle. Every treatment has benefits, drawbacks, and possible side effects.

  • Topical (applied to the skin) – Mild to moderate psoriasis. Some effective products include Cutar Emulsion and Tarsum shampoo.
  • Phototherapy (light, usually ultraviolet, applied to the skin) – Moderate to severe psoriasis
  • Systemic (taken orally or by injection or infusion) – Moderate, severe or disabling psoriasis

Discussing your treatment options with a dermatologist will help determine which is right for you.

Rosacea

Rosaceais a common skin disease that often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people. The redness can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Even the ears, chest and back can be red all the time.

Rosacea can cause more than redness. There are so many signs and symptoms that rosacea has four subtypes:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea:Redness, flushing, visible blood vessels
  • Papulopustular rosacea:Redness, swelling and acne-like breakouts
  • Phymatous rosacea:Skin thickens and has a bumpy texture
  • Ocular rosacea: Eyes red and irritated, eyelids can be swollen and person may have what looks like a stye  

While there is no cure for rosacea, treatment can help relieve symptoms. Studies show that when people have fewer signs and symptoms of rosacea, their quality of life improves.

Treatment for the skin includes:

  • Medicine that is applied to the rosacea
  • Sunscreen (Wearing it every day can help prevent flare-ups.)
  • An emollient to help repair the skin
  • Lasers and other light treatments
  • Antibiotics (applied to the skin and pills)

Dermatologists can remove the thickening skin that appears on the nose and other parts of the face with:

  • Lasers
  • Dermabrasion (procedure that removes skin)
  • Electrocautery (procedure that sends electric current into the skin to treat it)

When rosacea affects the eyes, a dermatologist may give you instructions for washing the eyelids several times a day and a prescription for eye medicine. 

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

Skincare 101

Skincare Tips for Seniors

Now is the time to lay back and enjoy life. Whether your days consist of a game of golf, walks with your spouse, gardening, or taking the grandchildren to the park, you likely spend a good portion of your days out in the Tennessee sun. Taking good care of your skin and practicing healthy skincare habits can keep your skin looking youthful at any age and could help prevent more serious skin problems down the road.

The following sections give some practical advice on how you can take care of your skin on a daily basis.

  • Protecting yourself from the sun – Tips on sunscreen use and what to wear if you’ll be spending time outdoors during the day. Learn what SPF stands for (and what number you should use) and how to read the UV index.
  • How to perform skin self-exams – Follow these steps to check your skin for signs of sun damage. Early detection is crucial to treating any kind of skin condition.

Protecting yourself from the sun

If your kids are outdoors all the time, that means you’re outdoors all the time. Whether you’re on a beach vacation or keeping an eye on them in the backyard, you should protect your skin at all times. In addition to keeping your skin healthy, being vigilant when you are in the sun is the best thing you can do to prevent skin disease and premature aging.

Comprehensive sun protection includes:

  • Avoiding deliberate tanning, including use of indoor tanning devices that emit UV rays.
  • Staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Wearing protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and long sleeves, when outdoors during the day.
  • Applying sunscreen year-round. Sunscreen should be broad spectrum (offers UVA and UVB protection) and have an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going outdoors to all skin that will be exposed. It should be reapplied after sweating or being in water. Many moisturizers and cosmetics include sunscreen, but most are only SPF 15.

Learn more about protecting yourself from the sun:

  • What does SPF stand for? – How sunscreens are rated and what number you should use.
  • How to read the UV Index – The UV Index is issued daily to advise you on the sun’s strength in your region. Learn why it’s important to know the UV Index for your area and where to find it.

What does SPF stand for?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. Sunscreens are rated or classified by the strength of their SPF. The SPF numbers on the packaging can range from as low as 2 to greater than 50. These numbers refer to the product’s ability to deflect the sun’s burning rays (UVB).

So how did they come up with those numbers? The sunscreen SPF rating is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on sunscreen-protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin.

For example, let’s say you apply a sunscreen that is rated SPF 2. If it would normally take you 10 minutes to turn red under sun exposure without any sunscreen, it would take 20 minutes for your skin to turn red with SPF 2. With SPF 15 sunscreen it would take 15 times longer to burn, or 150 minutes.

Even with this protection, sunscreen breaks down and rubs off with normal wear, so it needs to be reapplied approximately every two hours.

Dermatologists strongly recommend using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater year-round for all skin types. This will help protect against sunburn, premature aging (e.g., age spots and wrinkles) and skin cancer.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology


How to read the UV Index

If you want to get a better idea how much time you can spend in the sun on a given day, you can take a look at the UV Index. The UV Index is issued daily to advise you on the strength of the sun’s ultraviolet rays in your region.

Some newspapers print the index along with the weather forecast. The Weather Channel or your local TV news stations may also mention the index when they broadcast the weather report. You can check the UV Index for your area here by typing in your zip code.

The UV Index uses a numerical scale to rate the strength of the sun’s UV exposure level. The higher the UV Index level, the greater the strength of the sun’s UV rays—and the faster you can burn.

In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength. Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

Exposure
Category

Index Number

Sun Protection Messages

LOW

1-2

You can safely enjoy being outside. Wear sunglasses on bright days. If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen SPF 30+ .

MODERATE

3-5

Take precautions if you will be outside, such as wearing a hat and sunglasses and using sunscreen SPF 30+ .

Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

HIGH

6-7

Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen SPF 30+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical.

Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

VERY HIGH

8-10

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

EXTREME

11+

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

Make a habit of checking the index so you’ll know how much sun protection you’ll need each day.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


How to perform skin self-exams

Early detection is key when it comes to skin cancer. You can help protect yourself with regular at-home body inspections. Here’s how:

  • Schedule regular inspections. Check all of your moles every six months, especially if you have a lot of them or have a personal or family history of skin cancer. See a dermatologist once a year for a routine full-body check.
  • Be familiar with your moles, including their location, size and color.
  • Look for new or changing moles. It’s normal to develop new moles into your early 20s, but not beyond. Pay attention to any new growths or moles that have changed in size, color or shape.
  • Take photos. If you have many moles, keeping up with potential changes is difficult. One way to remedy that is to take photos during your 6-month inspections. Save and date them on a computer and review as needed. You may find a “scary” mole that has always been there or find out that it actually is new.
  • Beware of pink or black. Normal moles and other benign skin growths typically are varying shades of tan to brown. Melanomas may be black or less commonly pink, while other skin cancers tend to be pink and often scaly. See your dermatologist if you notice a pink or black lesion.
  • Check “hidden” spots. Many people forget to check areas they can’t see easily. Be sure to check the soles of your feet and genital area. Ask a partner or friend to look over your back. Get a hairdresser to inspect your scalp. Skin cancers can appear even in areas where the sun doesn’t shine.