Many older people suffer from dry spots on their skin, often on their lower legs, elbows, and lower arms. Dry skin patches feel rough and scaly. There are many possible reasons for dry skin, such as not drinking enough liquids, being in dry air, smoking, stress, and losing sweat and oil glands, which is common with age.
Dry skin also can be caused by health problems, such as diabetes or kidney disease. Using too much soap, antiperspirant, or perfume and taking hot baths can make dry skin worse.
Some medicines can make skin itchy. Because older people have thinner skin, scratching can cause bleeding that may lead to infection. Talk to your doctor if your skin is very dry and itchy.
Here are some ways to help dry, itchy skin:
- Use moisturizers, like lotions, creams, or ointments, every day.
- Take fewer baths or showers and use milder soap. Warm water is less drying than hot water. Don’t add bath oil to your water. It can make the tub too slippery.
- Try using a humidifier, an appliance that adds moisture to a room.
Visit the NIA website to learn more about skin care and aging including information on bruises, age spots, and skin cancer.