Has your parent mentioned a concern about his dry skin? Or maybe you or their in-home care provider has noticed dry skin patches or areas on your parent’s body. While dry skin is common in the elderly, especially in winter months, there are several main reasons for dry skin. If you can find the cause, you might be able to treat it and provide relief to your elderly parent.
Cold, dry air during winter
Depending on your climate, look at investing in a humidifier to promote more moisture in the air. Remember, it’ll be important to maintain the health of the humidifier by cleaning and sterilizing it so that it doesn’t force bacteria or mold in the air. Having their in-home care provider check it routinely will ensure it’s functioning properly.
Excessive bathing or showering
Bathing too much, especially in hot water, can dry out a person’s skin. Add cold winter months, where your parent probably doesn’t want her water to be chilly at all, and the skin damage can increase. Have your parent reduce baths/showers if possible and then make sure to use plenty of good lotion after a bath. If there are areas she cannot reach (like her back), have someone like yourself or their in-home care provider help by applying lotion on dry skin areas.
Use of soaps and detergents with ingredients that damage the skin
Have your elderly parent make sure she is using products that are kind to her skin. Look for moisturizing soaps and gentle detergents to prevent dry, irritable skin.
Direct skin exposure to fan heaters
Fan heaters can be a danger in many ways. As far as the skin in concerned, they can quickly dry out any exposed skin near your heater. If your elderly parent is cold at night, consider using a gentle heating blanket (with a timer) instead of a fan heater to reduce the chance of drying out her skin. Or have her wear extra layers to bed.
Long-term sun damage
Too much sun without any protection can create extreme dry, cracking skin. Even in the winter months, if your elderly parent is going to be outside for an extended time, encourage her to apply sunscreen. While there’s not a lot that can be done to fix the damage from the past, you can help your parent to not compound it by protecting her skin from the sun going forward.
Health issues like skin conditions, chronic illnesses or diseases
While dry skin may be a side effect of something more serious going on, treating the dry skin will help bring comfort and less pain to your parent. If the dry skin is a new development, you might want to consider having your parent’s physician look into other illnesses or diseases that may be causing it.
Hopefully, removing triggers for dry skin will reduce the need for treatment, and will make your elderly parent more comfortable during the winter months. If taking some of the steps above doesn’t help the situation, make sure to have your parent follow up with her doctor when she visits to see if there are other steps she should take.