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Winter Skin Care for Elderly

winter skin care right height for a cane

Winter Skin Care for Elderly and their Caregivers

Many people often have dry skin in the winter. For the elderly with thin skin, having chapped, cracked skin can be a serious problem. Winter time inactivity and being indoors constantly can also make their skin more fragile. Caregivers need to be concerned about winter skin care and watch out for chapped lips and flaking skin, and for inactivity that puts sustained pressure on fragile skin areas.

Here are few tips to help with your winter skin care:

More Moisture

  • Skin on the face, hands, elbows, and feet and heels may need some extra moisturizing during the winter. Doctors recommend using a moisturizer that’s oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture. Some lotions labeled as “night creams” are oil-based. You can also look for lotions containing “humectants” like glycerin, sorbitol, and alpha-hydroxyl acids that attract moisture to your skin.

Use Lip Moisturizer Daily Indoors and Outdoors.

  • Moisturize the air in your home with humidifiers, which put out moisture in a steam. This can also help your stuffy nose too. When you turn up the heat this winter, be aware that you are drying out your skin, as well as heating the house.

Get Up and Change Positions

  • Avoid prolonged sitting and lying in the same position. It’s tempting to hibernate in the winter: just cover up with blankets and stay in bed or in the easy chair. However, particularly for the immobile people who have thin skin, sitting or lying in the same position can lead to bedsores or the breakdown of skin on bony areas of the body. It is important for wheelchair users to get up and out of the chair at least every two hours or more frequently. Wheelchairs are for mobility, and are not a place to be “planted” all day. Those who stay in bed should be monitored and should change positions frequently also. Promoting movement and reducing pressure points by repositioning are the best ways to avoid bedsores, according to one study.

Sunlight Helps

  • Get out in the sunshine if you can each day. Sunshine helps people in many ways. A little sunshine every day will raise your Vitamin D levels, and your mood. A lack of Vitamin D can cause depression, cancers and autoimmune diseases, studies show. Try sitting out on an enclosed porch in the sunshine during the warmest part of the day for just 10 to 15 minutes. Join your cat in front of a sunny window for a while. Wear a hat to protect your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes in direct sunlight and snow glare. You can check with your doctor to see what your Vitamin D levels are and to learn what is a beneficial amount of sunlight for you.

With a little planning you can have a winter skin care system that will help keep healthy and happy.

  • Decubitus Ulcers: Pathophysiology and Primary Prevention. Jennifer Anders, Dr. med,*,1 Axel Heinemann, Dr. med.,2 Carsten Leffmann, Dr. med.,3 Maja Leutenegger,4 Franz Pröfener,5 and Wolfgang von Renteln-Kruse, Prof. Dr. med.1
  • Dtsch Arztebl Int. May 2010; 107(21): 371–382. Published online May 28, 2010.
    Vitamin D: Deficiency, Diversity and Dosage by Andrew W. Saul Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 2003; Vol. 18, Numbers 3 and 4, p. 194-204.) Online at


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