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Strategies for Treating Eczema in Older Adults

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As seniors age, their skin can become drier, thinner, and wrinkled due to the loss of underlying lipids. Skin also loses its elastic ability and integrity, which leaves it more susceptible to eczema and other inflammatory processes. Other contributing factors include malnutrition, exposure to excessive water during baths or showers, and years of sun exposure. There are different types of eczema that develop in certain regions of the body, and treatment depends on the specific disorder. You can take the following steps to help your aging loved one prevent eczema.

Assist with Bathing

Aging adults should avoid using hot water when bathing, as the heat dries and irritates sensitive skin. On the other hand, seniors should consider soaking in a tub filled with warm water for approximately 15 minutes to rehydrate the skin. Ground oatmeal can be added to eliminate itching and discomfort. Older adults should avoid body washes or soaps that add to the inflammation. When finished soaking, seniors should blot their skin dry with a towel.

If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Fort Myers seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.

Moisturize the Skin

After bathing and rehydrating the skin, seniors should apply a thick moisturizer that has skin repairing properties. Look for products that contain ceramides. Emollients and moisturizers ensure skin retains its moisture and is less likely to feel irritated. Virgin coconut oil and sunflower oil are other options worth considering, as they contain anti-inflammatory properties.

Use Chill Therapy

If eczema lesions are confined to small regions, seniors can apply a cold, wet washcloth or an ice pack to the site. The cold soothes the redness and irritation while interfering with nerve transmissions that deliver pain signals to the brain.

Reduce Sweat and Irritation

Areas on the body where skin creases or folds have a greater tendency to become irritated when sweating. During summer, seniors should wear light clothing and use fans and air conditioners to reduce indoor temperatures. During winter, using a humidifier can moisten the air and prevent skin from drying further.

Older adults who want to prevent age-related health issues can benefit from professional in-home care. Families looking for top-rated Fort Myers home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

Suggest Topical Steroids

The moment skin becomes uncomfortable, seniors should try applying over-the-counter (OTC) hydrocortisone cream. In severe cases of eczema, seniors might receive a prescription topical steroid. However, these formulas are designed for short-term use only. For mild breakouts, the products are typically used for up to one week. In more serious cases, older adults might be instructed to apply the cream or ointment for up to six weeks.

Look for Alternative Topical Medications

Mentholated lotions and creams with no more than three percent menthol are effective at minimizing eczema itching. Preparations with lidocaine or pramoxine numb irritated areas and eliminate the discomfort. Consider keeping these formulas in the refrigerator to enhance their overall effectiveness.

Consider Antibiotics

Skin easily becomes infected when continually rubbed or scratched. Infections are often red, slightly swollen, and may weep. Seniors should cleanse the site thoroughly and apply a topical OTC antibiotic ointment. Infections in large areas may require prescription oral antibiotics.

Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elderly care. Fort Myers, FL, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at 239.449.4701 today.