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

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

During our 60s and 70s, the many changes transforming our skin can feel inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with them. The right skin care can improve how your skin feels — and looks.

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:
  • Stop using bar soap. Replace it with a gentle, creamy, fragrance-free cleanser or emollient.
  • 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 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. This helps ease the dryness and restore your skin’s protective barrier.

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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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, 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:
  • Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day. You want to apply this to all skin that clothing won’t cover while you’re outside.
  • Seek shade when outdoors. Sunscreen cannot block 100% of the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun. To find out if a garment offers sun protection, hold it up to a bright light. If you don’t see light shining through, it can protect your skin from the sun.

  1. Go fragrance free. Perfumes, colognes, and skin care products that contain fragrance can irritate your skin. When you stop using these, you can reduce your risk of developing dry, itchy skin.

  2. See a dermatologist for skin cancer exams. 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.

  3. Skin cancer risk increases with age, so it's important to see a dermatologist for skin cancer exams.

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  4. Examine your skin for signs of skin cancer. This cancer can develop quickly. Learning how to examine your skin for signs of skin cancer helps you to find skin cancer early.

    How to SPOT skin cancer

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 when a product that you used for years starts to irritates your skin.

Find a dermatologist

Additional related resources


Images: Getty Images

References
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.