Maintaining Skin Integrity as You Age

Maintaining Skin Integrity as You Age

Skin is the human body’s largest organ — covering, on average, 22 square feet. From head to toe, your skin plays an incredibly valuable role in shielding you against everything the world throws at it, from harmful bacteria to flying objects.

When you were younger, your skin held up admirably, but the aging process and wear and tear have weakened this defense system, leaving you more vulnerable to serious damage and infection.

As part of our wide range of health services for seniors, the team here at Waltham Clinic pays close attention to skin integrity. Through our expert preventive care and wound care, our team provides the necessary expertise and resources to help maintain your skin’s integrity.

The aging process and your skin

All you need to do is look at your skin to realize that it isn’t as strong as it once was. Thanks to a natural loss of collagen and elastin — the proteins responsible for your skin’s structure and support — your skin loses strength, elasticity, and tone.

On top of this, as you age, your epidermis (the outermost layer of your skin) and your dermis (the next layer down) begin to separate, leaving it weaker still.

Another problem with aging skin is that there’s a considerable reduction in blood flow and lymphatic drainage, which can greatly affect your skin’s ability to heal (more on this in a moment).

Rounding out the list of problems in aging skin is simple wear and tear. From years of sun exposure to everyday cuts and bruises, these forces can exact a heavy toll on the integrity of your skin.

Major concerns in aging skin

One of the biggest concerns we have when it comes to aging skin has two parts. First, since your skin is weaker, it’s more prone to injury. Simple pressure can cause a problem, never mind cuts and lacerations. We mention pressure because the elderly are more susceptible to health conditions that render them bed-bound, which places added pressure on your skin (think bed sores).

Second, due to the lack of blood flow and drainage, your skin struggles to heal quickly and properly, leaving you at a much higher risk for infection.

Another concern we have are problems like incontinence-related dermatitis. As you age, problems with urinary and fecal incontinence are not uncommon, and these issues can lead to secondary issues, such as dermatitis. The constant exposure to urine or fecal matter irritates your skin and causes very unpleasant symptoms to develop in the exterior areas surrounding your urethra and rectum, such as:

  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Burning and itching
  • Lesions

Here again, thanks to a reduction in resources and integrity in your skin, your skin is ill-equipped to fight back against this type of irritation.

Maintaining your skin’s integrity

We have extensive experience helping our patients with skin-related concerns, and we offer several proven strategies, such as:

  • Reducing pressure on vulnerable skin
  • Wound debridement
  • Advanced dressings
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Bioengineered tissue substitutes
  • Negative pressure wound therapy

While these measures are more reactive, we can also design a preventive program to help you avoid skin problems and infection in the first place.

If you’d like to learn more about our skin integrity services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.