70s and beyond
Skin cancer, benign skin growths and dry
skin are very common in men and women in
this age group. The skin does become dryer
with age, and, along with that, often itchier.
Frequent application of gentle, effective moisturizers is critical for keeping skin well
hydrated and less itchy. Moisturizer should be
applied at least once a day, preferably to damp
skin after a bath or shower. Look for products
containing exfoliating compounds, such as
lactic acid or urea, or effective hydrating
ingredients, such as ceramides. Anyone with
fair skin and a history of excessive sun exposure or sunburns, or a family history of skin
cancer, should be examined to make sure
there are no suspicious growths.
The main issue with hair at this time of
life is that it turns grey. Apart from the color
change, many people are distressed by the
accompanying change in hair texture. In
order to keep hair smooth and manageable, it
is important to use a conditioner after shampooing. In general, stand-alone products
work best, so choose a gentle shampoo and
use a separate conditioner after shampooing.
As I frequently explain to my patients,
skin is like a garden: It likes to grow things.
There are all sorts of completely harmless,
normal growths that appear on the skin as one
ages. It may be very difficult to tell which
growths are benign and which require attention. Anyone with questions should seek
advice from a physician or dermatologist. C
Rachel Herschenfeld, M.D., is a founding partner of Dermatology Partners Inc. in Wellesley,
Massachusetts. Her monthly “Skin Sense” column is published on washingtonpost.com.