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Many skin problems revolve around cosmetic issues such as wrinkling, acne and age spots. What some people forget is that the skin is an organ and vulnerable to certain conditions. It’s important for seniors to see a dermatologist at the first sign of skin changes. A dermatologist can rule out potentially harmful conditions and provide solutions for treating the symptoms.

Below are three common reasons why older adults see the dermatologist.

1. Dry, Itchy Skin

Dry, flaky skin is something that can happen to all age groups, particularly during the winter months. However, dry skin is more common in older adults because the layers of skin are thinner, making it difficult to retain moisture. Generally speaking, scratchy skin is a nuisance and not a sign of anything serious, but it should still be looked at.

If itchy skin is all you have, your dermatologist can recommend a safe and effective regimen for keeping the skin moist. This regimen may include applying a lotion each day, showering with a special soap, using a humidifier and taking over-the-counter medications.

2. Skin Cancer Screenings

One million Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 65. Everyone is susceptible to skin cancer, but older white men are the highest risk group. Seeing a dermatologist is imperative if you notice any changes in the skin, such as scaly red bumps, red patches, new or irregular moles or open sores. Early detection is key.

Many adults will schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if they notice something strange, but they don’t see this specialist on a regular basis. Because aging skin is more at risk for certain conditions, it’s a good idea to see the derm more often once you turn 65. Potential problems can be caught early on, and you can discuss proper sun safety.

3. Pressure Sores and Bed Sores

Pressure sores are open wounds that occur from lying in the same position for a long period of time. Bed sores are most common for people who are confined to a bed or chair, but they can happen to people after surgery or illness, too. Pressure sores cause a great deal of discomfort, so they must be dealt with immediately.

The best way to treat pressure sores is to prevent them in the first place, such as by turning over every couple of hours to avoid being in the same position. Treatment includes bandages, massaging the affected area and placing foam pads or pillows under the body. A healthy diet and hydration are important, too. You must treat the sores right away, otherwise they can progress into more serious sores.

Have you scheduled an appointment with your dermatologist yet? It could save your life!