What's new in treating aging skin?

New methods of skin rejuvenation are continually developing. Innovations range from topically applied medications including prescriptions and over-the-counter products called “cosmeceuticals” to surgical procedures (facelift, browlift, blepharoplasty). Non-surgical techniques include soft tissue augmentation (implants), botulinum toxin, fillers, and new laser technology.

An understanding of how your skin changes as you age and how the sun affects your skin can help you decide with your doctor what treatment is best for you.

Maintaining healthy skin

The best way to keep skin healthy is to avoid sun exposure beginning early in life. Here are some other tips:

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10am and 4pm when UV exposure is at its peak. If you are in the sun between 10am and 4pm, always wear protective clothing such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and sunglasses.
  • Put on sunscreen before going out in the sun to help protect your skin from UV light. Remember to reapply the lotion as needed. Always use products that are SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher.
  • Check your skin for signs of skin cancer. If there are changes that worry you, call the doctor right away. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that older, fair-skinned people have a yearly skin check by a doctor as part of a regular physical check-up.
  • Try to avoid dry skin. Use a humidifier at home, bathe with soap less often (use a moisturizing body wash instead), and use a moisturizing lotion. If this doesn't work, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Skin cancer

The chance of developing skin cancer increases as people age, especially for those who live in sunny areas of the country. There are three types of common skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.

The best defense against skin cancer is paying attention to the warning signs. If there is a sudden change in the look of a mole or a new spot, see a doctor. Look for differences in color, size, shape, or surface quality (scales, oozing, crusting, or bleeding). Have a doctor check any dark-colored spots.