Our skin is like an onion, with layers upon layers of cells. Human skin is composed of 300 million skin cells and 45 miles of nerves. The outer layer of skin is the epidermis which is composed of five layers of skin. The bottom layer is constantly making new skin cells that push up to the top layer which is really dead skin cells. Humans shed 600,000 particles of skin an hour which accounts for much of the dust in people’s homes. The second layer is the dermis, which has tough tissue, hair follicles, sweat glands, and oil glands that help give moisture to the skin. The last layer stores fat, hair roots, some blood vessels, and nerves.
With aging, comes changes to the skin that requires special care. New skin cells are not made as quickly, oil and sweat glands are lost, and fat cells become depleted. This results in dry and itchy skin that bruises easily. If old people scratch their skins or develop sores, or infection can set it. Because the skin tends to hang, the elderly can develop skin rashes. The elderly and their caregivers must consistently take care of their skin, which is the largest organ in the body.
How to take care of the elderly skin
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Use sunscreen
- Quit smoking
- Use creams on the skin daily
- Take fewer baths
- Use milder soaps
- Report suspicious bruising to the doctor
- Dry well under skin folds
- Bandage skin tears
- Provide a safe living environment
- Inspect skin during bathing
- Report any new skin breakdown