If you’re getting older, you may notice that you’re bruising more easily, that bruises and cuts don’t heal as quickly as they used to, and that your skin seems thinner overall. There’s a reason for this.
The reason is that older skin is thinner. As we age:
- the collagen and elastin in our skin breaks down,
- our actual skin cells shrink and decrease in number, and
- the layer of fat beneath our skin degrades, causing our skin to collapse toward the bone and feel loose.
According to Dr. Meghan Feely, a physician in the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, this largely results from a combination of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and decreased hormone production, particularly of estrogen and testosterone.
Nutritional deficiencies and certain medications can also contribute to easily-bruised and easily-damaged skin. Some of these medications include:
- aspirin (which acts as a blood-thinner),
- anticoagulants (that prevent blood from clotting), and
Even healthy dietary supplements such as vitamin E and fish oil may increase bruising, due to their anti-blood-clotting properties. Dr. Noelani Gonzalez, director of cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai West in New York, adds that insufficient vitamin C can also make you susceptible to bruising.
As their skin is naturally about 20% thicker than women’s skin (due to higher levels of testosterone), men don’t tend to bruise as easily as women, but men do tend to be slower to heal.
Whether you’re male or female, here are some tips to help you care for your aging skin:
- Stay well-hydrated; hydration improves the skin’s elasticity.
- Moisturize your skin to avoid drying and cracking. Vitamin K creams may also help bruises heal faster.
- Take precautions to avoid falls and skin tears in your home, such as:
- Reducing floor clutter such as wires and area rugs
- Placing soft bumpers on sharp corners
- Using assistive devices if needed for walking
- Ask your doctor for possible alternatives to medications you take that promote bruising.
- Make sure your diet contains sufficient amounts of vitamin C.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves, as they can provide some cushioning and protection.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF over 30 when going outside, to reduce damage from UV rays.
- If your skin does become injured, elevate the area and apply a cold compress first then a warm compress. The cold slows the bleeding, and the warmth increases circulation and speeds healing.
Source: Miller, Debbie L. “What to Know About Thinning Skin and Easy Bruising Skin.” Next Avenue, 11/12/2018. By Margalo Eden