As our bodies age, our skin requires more care and over time can become fragile and thin. In seniors and elderly folk, this can present a serious problem by excessive bleeding, tearing, or even infections. Our skin functions as the body’s largest external organ supporting our muscular and skeletal systems. While our skin provides protection to our internal organs, it also contains one of the five most important senses: touch.
Our skin and our nerves are closely interwoven in a complex series of synapses and electrical impulses that signal our brains when we near objects that have a temperature, and in turn process environmental information that could warn us of harm or danger. Damage to our skin, if deep enough, could hinder the communication between receptors in our nerves thus distorting how our brain reads our environment.
Inaccurate readings of our environment can lead to serious injury. Even though we may not be able to feel something happening to us, our bodies may still receive the damage caused by whatever we are exposed to. For example, we could incur severe burns from food or water with prolonged exposure. Skin that is torn also heals slower if nutrients aren’t present to accelerate the repairing process.
If our skin is not properly cared over the years, we could see the long-term effects of negligence in what should be our golden years. If our hands are left dry and cracked from years of wear and tear, the cracks can reopen and act as an entry point allowing bacteria and other harmful substances to enter into our bodies causing infection or other illnesses. Therefore, it is important to always be mindful of our skin, especially our hands and feet as these are likely the most commonly exposed parts of our body and receive the most interaction with our environment.
The best ways to care for our skin is to always stay moisturized with some sort of cream, lotion, or body oil. Staying moisturized allows our skin to retain moisture while also absorbing additional moisture provided by the lotion. As an added benefit of daily moisturizing, wrinkles that develop with age tend to lessen the more moisturized that area of the skin is. Look for lotions that have Vitamin A, E, and aloe as these are best when seeking to repair or maintain good skin health.
Stay hydrated. Being hydrated has many health benefits and our skin is sure to let us know when we need to drink more water. More than half of our body is composed of water and we lose an average of almost 10-15 cups of water daily through normal bodily functions. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day not only gives us a boost to our energy but improves our well-being and leaves our skin glowing and vibrant.
Exfoliating your skin also aids in replenishing moisture by ridding the surface of dead skin cells that accumulate over time. Skin cells naturally shed but when exfoliated, cells wash away exposing a new layer of cells underneath. This process is usually repeated once per week or every other week. Careful not to over-exfoliate as it can cause dryness and irritation. After exfoliation, it is always best to apply a moisturizer for maximum moisture re-absorption.
In addition to drinking plenty of water, eating the right foods amplifies our skin health. By consuming foods that are high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables like berries or peppers, limit the production of bad skin cells known as free radicals. If you want to add variety to your diet, try adding green tea to your routine, which is power-packed with antioxidants good for your skin, as well as for heart and brain functionality. Be on the look-out for other foods high in Vitamins A and C as they provide nutrients vital to the production of healthy skin cells.
Our skin, in many ways, can be thought of as our first line of defense. We often place maintaining our skin health on the lower end of our priority list, but by incorporating these simple routines of moisturizing into our day to day lives, it will soon become second nature.