by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist
May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.
Skin cancer, the most common of all types of cancers, occurs in people of all ages, and about 76,250 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Rates increase with age and are highest among those in their 80s. When melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, the survival rate is as high as 97 percent, which is why it’s important to prevent and detect.
As we get ready to welcome summer, it’s time to adjust skin care regimens to reflect the changes in temperature and humidity. Summer weather causes skin to sweat more than usual, reducing its ability to breathe. Further, problems resulting from chronic incontinence — such as rashes, infections and ulcers — require extra steps to gently cleanse and protect.
Here are steps for healthy summer skin for seniors:
Proper cleansing is important during humid weather conditions, especially after contact with urine or stool, to protect against damage. Regular soap and water can be harsh and drying, but there are cleansers with pH-balanced formulas that won’t irritate sensitive areas, such as the Lantiseptic line of skin care, which is used in hospitals.
Skin should be gently patted dry after cleansing, using a fresh towel every time. If dry skin is not a problem in the summer months, seniors who use a gentle foaming cleanser may find they can skip all-purpose, oil-based moisturizers and choose a barrier protection made for sensitive skin areas.
Treating and protecting includes barrier ointments and creams are designed to protect skin from irritation caused by stool, urine or excess moisture. Caregivers of individuals at risk for skin breakdown should use only products that are formulated for aging, injury-prone skin, to protect against ulcers, chafing and tears. Skin protectants containing lanolin closely mimic the lipids in skin. Products that contain analgesic and anti-inflammatory ingredients can soothe. As they absorb, they deliver medicinal ingredients that are hypoallergenic, antifungal and bacteriostatic.
Hydrating from the inside is important in the summer months. Excessive sweating in hot, humid conditions leads to fluid loss. Drinking plenty of water, in amounts recommended by a senior’s health care provider, can help control incontinence while staying hydrated.
Protecting skin from UV exposure may include wearing a combination of clothing, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., says the American Cancer Society.
May is a good time to remind everyone to watch carefully for any changes in the skin, such as moles that change in appearance. If you are fair and have a family history of melanoma, your risk for skin cancer is even greater. Visit the American Cancer Society website for more information on preventing and detecting melanoma.
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.