Older, Wiser and Scratchier: The “Senior Itch”
If you (or your loved ones) have been plagued by progressively itchy skin as you get older, you may be wondering — what gives?
Well, it’s a fact of life that your skin’s propensity for dryness increases along with your age, and this dryness is the main culprit of the so-called “senior itch.” Age-induced dryness is most often caused by your skin’s tendency to become thinner, more fragile and less elastic as you age. What’s more, as the years wear on, your body’s natural oil-producing glands gradually lose their ability to moisturize the skin as effectively. The result? Dry, flaky, scaly, rough, itchy skin.
While many seniors are affected by the “senior itch,” it’s possible to alleviate dryness and assuage overall itch by following these easy, everyday tips:
- Apply a thick moisturizer within three minutes of taking a bath or shower
- Wear lightweight cotton and natural fiber clothing; avoid wool clothing
- Ensure adequate hydration throughout the day
- Avoid waterless antibacterial cleansers (they contain alcohol, which only exacerbates dryness)
- Avoid abrasive soaps and detergents
- Limit sun exposure to the sun
Of course, in more severe cases of the senior itch, over-the-counter and prescription medications may be needed – scheduling a quick consult with your doctor is usually the best place to start.
References: Today’s Geriatric Medicine