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AT Home Care & Hospice Blog

Elderly Can Combat Skin Aging

Most of us grew up basking in the warmth of the sun throughout the summer, and rarely considered sunscreen on a daily basis when not on the beach or tennis courts.  Today we are well aware that UVA rays speed up aging and cause skin cancer in various degrees.  Interestingly enough, UVA exposure is only one of many causes of skin aging. Accumulated cellular damage in the skin results not only from UV sunlight, but also from smog, toxins, cigarette smoke, x-rays, drugs, and other stressors.  The important thing to know is that some of the effects can be reversed through lifestyle changes as simple as diet and supplemental creams.

Skin Care Tactics for Seniors

As we age, we have less ability to repair DNA and renewal cells to combat these free radicals.  Enzymes that provide antioxidant activity decrease in the elderly.  But, there is greater understanding of how diet can play a big role in improving cell energy and antioxidant activity.  Foods rich in nucleic acids such as sardines, salmon, tuna, shell fish, lentils and beans help improve cell energy.   Foods containing antioxidants and other phytochemicals such as fruits, vegetables, and green tea help protect against oxidative damage and free radical attack of all body cells including the skin. Understanding the complexities of all of the factors affecting skin, can help motivate the elderly to change the things they are able to; diet and lifestyle. Home Health Care Clinicians have a unique insight to their patients’ activities of daily living as well as their diet.  They are often able to best raise the topic about the benefits of lifestyle changes and alternatives.  Some agencies, such as AT Home Care in Virginia, have partnered with trained dieticians who are able to consult with patients to create a tailor made nutritional plan for each person’s physical condition.   The home nurse and dietician may collaborate to focus on problem areas such as skin conditions or skin quality improvement.

DHEA, Melatonin, and Skin

Hormones play a large role in skin health.   So much hormone activity occurs in skin that it has been called another endocrine gland.  Skin has its own immune system and specialized enzymes not found in any other part of the bod. The sleep hormone (melatonin) and the anti-stress hormone (DHEA are both found in the human skin.  They are both converted into other entities which benefit the skin. DHEA is converted into estrogen and androgen-type metabolites found only in skin.    Melatonin is synthesized in skin.  In low concentrations it can stimulate cell growth. Estrogen’s skin-enhancing effects are well-known.  It provokes collagen and a moisture factor known as hyaluronic acid.  Aging decreases both estrogen and collagen.  Enzymes that convert DHEA to estrogen also decline.  Not surprisingly, women who take synthetic estrogen have scientifically proven thicker skin. It is thought that faulty skin immunity affects the entire immune system.  Sunlight can penetrate deep into the skin and alter the entire body’s immunity directly.  It also affects hormones.   It decreases melatonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine and increases cortisol, serotonin, GAVA and dopamine. Interestingly, both DHEA and melatonin are absorbed by skin when applied topically and can have an 85% greater effectiveness than when taken orally.  The additional benefit is that it works directly on the skin and does not end up in other organs. DHEA’s benefits extend beyond its conversion to skin-friendly hormones.  It protects blood vessels which have been injured and appears to prolong the healing process.  It preserves the ability of skin to react to cancer-causing, skin destroying pollutants in air, food, and water.  It also keeps chemical carcinogens from binding to DNA. Melatonin is another antioxidant that protects against UV radiation.  Studies have shown that topical melatonin give excellent protection against sunburn if applied before sun exposure.  In small amounts, melatonin causes skin cells to proliferate.  (In large amounts, it stops proliferation). Aging causes a progressive decline in our ability to internally synthesize the essential fatty acids required by the skin to maintain a youthful, moist appearance.  The most important oils are the omega-3s that can make the skin smoother, softer, and look more radiant.  Less of the effects of aging are noticeable.  Fish oil, Flax or Perilla oil provide abundant quantities of the omega 3 fatty acids that are so beneficial to the health and appearance of skin.

Additional Measures for Keeping the Skin Young

The ozone layer filters out the UVC and much of UVB rays, but the ozone layer has little effect on UVA rays which cause most of premature wrinkles, loss of elasticity and  hyperpigmentation.  Wearing a hat and clothing with substantial coverage is your best bet in avoiding UVA rays. Solar Max 17 is a sun protection formula that also contains antioxidant vitamins and sun protection factor 17.  Vitamins A,C,E protect from free radical damage. Rejuvenex Body Lotion contains some titanium oxide, precise amounts of glycolic acid, vitamin C. and melatonin The Dream Cream, also known as RejuveNight, contains all the anti-aging ingredients including DHEA amounts and melatonin, together with associated factors, work specifically in the epidermis layer of the skin. Medical professionals such as a primary care doctor or a home health nurse can create  a care plan with a certified dietician that will add the optimal supplemental vitamins, topical creams or diet to improve skin health.

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