Go to AAD Home
Donate For AAD Members Search

Go to AAD Home

How to care for your skin in your 60s and 70s

During our 60s and 70s, skin can feel dry and irritated. This happens for many reasons, including that skin is thinner and loses water more easily. Medications and medical conditions can also play a role.

There is good news. The right skin care can improve how your skin feels — and looks.

Skin becomes drier with age

If your skin feels dry and irritated, the right skin care can help you feel more comfortable.

A senior woman laughing with her mature female friend.

Skin care changes dermatologists recommend

When it comes to skin care in our 60s and 70s, dermatologists recommend making the following lifestyle changes if you haven’t already done so.

  1. Bathe to relieve dry skin. Some simple changes to your bath time can reduce (or alleviate) dry, itchy skin and prevent dry, itchy from becoming a serious problem. Here’s what you can do:

    • Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free, moisturizing bar soap, cleanser, or body wash. Doing so will help soothe rather than dry your skin. Moisturizing ingredients that can help reduce dryness include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and lanolin.
    • Use warm (not hot) water. Hot water strips skin of its natural oils, which can increase skin dryness.
    • Use a soft cloth to wash your skin. A buff puff or bath brush can irritate your skin.
    • Keep your bath or shower short. You may find that you don’t need to bathe every day. When you bathe, keep it short. Take a 5- to 10-minute bath or shower.
    • Pat water gently from your skin after bathing, but leave a bit of water on your skin. Having some water on your skin when you apply moisturizer (next step) helps hydrate your skin.
    • Apply a creamy, fragrance-free moisturizer formulated for dry skin within 3 minutes of bathing and throughout the day. Moisturizing helps ease the dryness and restore your skin’s protective barrier. When your skin feels very dry, dermatologists recommend using an ointment instead of a cream. An ointment does a better job of holding water in your skin than does a cream.

    Skip the bath oil

    You increase your risk of slips and falls when you use bath oil to moisturize your skin, so it's best to avoid bath oil.

    Senior man in bath washing himself
  2. Use a humidifier when the air feels dry. Heating and air conditioning can strip humidity from the air. Dry air can make your skin feel dry and itchy.

    Keeping indoor humidity between 45% and 60% can reduce dry, itchy skin. You can easily measure the humidity in the air with a hydrometer, which you can buy at a hardware or home-improvement store.

    How skin can change in your 60s and 70s

    Everyone ages differently, but during this time in your life, you may notice that your skin is:

    • Drier
    • Thinner and starting to look paper-like
    • Itchy
    • Developing more age spots, wrinkles, and creases
    • Blotchier
    • Irritated easily
    • More susceptible to skin infections
    • Bruising more easily
    • Sweating less
    • Healing more slowly
  3. Wear gloves while doing housework and gardening. Working around your house and in your garden can expose your skin to harsh chemicals, sunlight, and other things that can irritate and dry your skin.

    When you wear gloves, you also reduce your risk of injuring your skin.

  4. Protect your skin from the sun. If you’re seeing more wrinkles, age spots, bruises, and blotches of discolored skin, you may wonder if you still need to protect your skin from the sun.

    You do! At this stage in your life, sun protection still offers many benefits. It helps to prevent new age spots and blotchy skin. It can reduce dry, thinning skin. It also reduces your risk of developing skin cancer.

    To protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, dermatologists recommend that you:

    • Seek shade when outdoors. Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
    • Wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun. Wear a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection when possible. For more effective protection, select clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number on the label.
    • Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. You want to apply this to all skin that clothing won’t cover while you’re outside.

  5. Go fragrance free. Fragrance can irritate your skin. To help heal dry, itchy skin and prevent it from coming back, stop using perfumes, colognes, and skin care products that contain fragrance.

    Products that are fragrance free say “fragrance free” on the package.

    “Fragrance free” and “unscented” have different meanings

    Unscented products can irritate dry skin, as unscented products generally contain a chemical that covers up the smell of other ingredients so that you cannot smell them. Be sure to use fragrance-free products.

  6. Examine your skin for signs of skin cancer. Around 50 years of age, your risk of developing skin cancer and pre-cancerous growths increases. As the years pass, this risk rises.

    When skin cancer is found early and removed, that’s often the only treatment you’ll needed. If the cancer spreads, treatment becomes more difficult.

    Learning how to examine your skin for signs of skin cancer can help you to find skin cancer early. To learn how to examine your skin, watch How to perform a skin self-exam.

    If you notice a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches, or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

    Dermatologist examining patient’s skin for signs of skin cancer

    If you notice a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches, or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

    Dermatologist examines birthmark of senior woman

When to seek a dermatologist's help

While the right skin care can help, medications, surgery, and health problems can take a toll on your skin. A board-certified dermatologist understands the effects each of these can have on your skin and can create a treatment plan tailored to your skin’s needs. A dermatologist can also help you safely treat skin changes, such as age spots and wrinkles.

Find a dermatologist

Related AAD resources

Getty Images

Chang ALS, Chen SC, et al. “A daily skincare regimen with a unique ceramide and filaggrin formulation rapidly improves chronic xerosis, pruritus, and quality of life in older adults.” Geriatr Nurs. Published online Jun 6, 2017. (doi:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2017.05.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Cowdell F. “Care and management of patients with pruritus.” Nurs Older People. 2009;21(7):35-41.

Cowdell F. “Promoting skin health in older people.” Nurs Older People. 2010;22(10):21-6.

Murphree RW. “Impairments in skin integrity.” Nurs Clin North Am. 2017;52(3):405-17.

Thiele JJ and Gilchrest BA. “Aging skin.” In: Nouri K. Skin Cancer. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., China, 2008:17-29.

Van Onselen J. “Skin care in the older person: identifying and managing eczema.” Br J Community Nurs. 2011;16(12):576, 578-80, 582.

White-Chu EF and Reddy M. “Dry skin in the elderly: complexities of a common problem.” Clin Dermatol. 2011;29(1):37-42.

Written by:
Paula Ludmann, MS

Reviewed by:
Bassel H. Mahmoud, MD, PhD, FAAD
Kesha Buster, MD FAAD
Sandy Marchese Johnson, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 9/8/21