Elderly Skin - Beating Sunburn & Monitoring its Harmful Effects

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posted by Ted Ryan on June 29, 2015

We know that too much exposure to the sun is harmful (according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, about 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65% of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun). Skin precautions are especially important for the elderly because the odds of developing skin cancer rise as you age.

Our recent newsletter shared tips to protecting skin from the sun, yet many of us will likely end up burned at some point throughout the summer. Maybe it’s forgetting to apply sunscreen on an overcast day, or losing track of time in the garden and forgetting to reapply every few hours.

Many older adults feel that there is no point in protecting themselves because the damage has been done, however, it’s never too late to prevent further damage and lower your cancer risk. There are methods for soothing sunburn and detecting cancerous growths.

Soothe sunburn by rehydrating your skin with moisturizer that contains aloe vera. Avoid products with petroleum, benzocaine or lidocaine. Petroleum can trap heat in your skin, while benzocaine and lidocaine can lead to more irritation.

As we age, skin becomes thinner, more fragile and less likely to protect and rejuvenate itself. If you’ve had sunburns in the past, or have a personal or family history of skin cancer, check your skin monthly for new or changing growths and apply the ABCDEs of mole checks.

Asymmetry – The two sides of the mole are unequal.
Borders – The borders are uneven, ragged or blurry.
Color – The mole contains different colors or shades of the same color.
Diameter – The mole is larger than the average pencil eraser – about a quarter inch.
Evolving – The mole has changed size, shape or color.

If you notice any of these signs, contact your dermatologist for a formal skin check. Make sure to scan your full body. It’s helpful to have a partner check areas that you cannot see, such as your back.

If you need help looking for suspicious moles growths, contact us. A professional caregiver can provide a trained eye to help prevent and detect harm from the sun.

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