Q: I have a resident with exceptionally dry skin. We’ve tried everything and can’t get it smooth. Do you have any recommendations? 

A: With the elderly drinking less, along with the extra heat that they like in their rooms, it can be difficult to keep the skin moist. 

Also, with poor nutrition and age in general, it is hard to keep the skin moist. The skin, which is the body’s largest organ, is affected like all aging organs. People tend to forget that.

Studies  show that the dryness, scaling and breakdown of skin is a direct reflection of the aging process, poor nutrition and poor intake of fluid. All of these things affect the skin immensely.

There are many approaches people have tried  to successfully assist with skin moisture and pliability, such as increasing fluids, the use of natural oils, oils in the tub or shower, and also nanobubble hydrotherapy. This product came into the market around five years ago and the machine inserts large amounts of oxygen into the water, making the water appear milky. However, it makes the skin smooth, heals small scabs and sores, and also takes away the scaling of dry, rough skin.

Of course, nothing takes the place of good nutrition and hydration. Try small sips or drinks of water, milk, juice or whatever the resident likes to drink. Popsicles, making ice cubes from juices to increase calories, and hydration also will make a difference. In addition, live plants in the rooms can add moisture. Reducing the temperature of the room, or adding a humidifier, if allowed per your state regulations, also may help with making the skin less dry.

Trying several different “tricks” may work best, as not many people enjoy change, if at all. But adding a small amount of fluid, a hand cream, lowering the temperature one degree at a time (remember: start low, go slow), adding a plant …  these all can help make a big change in the dryness of skin.