As a kid, back in the days when toilet paper came dyed in different colours, I already knew I had to be careful about what I let touch my skin. Rarely did I develop rash or scaliness, but I’d often experience intense itching in areas where I’d applied a scented or perfumed skin care product. To this day, I only wear antiperspirant or deodorant occasionally — if I wear it for more than a few consecutive days, it’s all I can do not to scratch myself raw. (Thank goodness I work from home!)
Now that I’m over 50, I have more problems than ever with cold winter weather and dry, forced air heat sucking the moisture out of my skin, making it more prone to becoming irritated. When my own sweat comes into contact with these parched areas, they can become red and irritated. This past fall, I experienced an especially severe version of this phenomenon: for a couple of weeks, it looked as if I had chemical burns on the outside surfaces of both thumbs.
Having been fortunate enough to have interviewed a number of knowledgeable dermatologists for a number of articles I’ve written about eczema and sensitive skin, I was aware of strategies that can help ease itching and irritation, and cut down on future flare-ups. Now I just have to make sure I carry them out more diligently.
You can learn more about why many of us find that our skin is more sensitive after age 50, and what you can do about it, by reading this health feature I wrote for Good Times’ January/February 2015 issue: ‘How to Cope With Sensitive Skin.’
Thank-you to the three interviewees who so kindly shared their time and expertise:
- Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto dermatologist with DLK on Avenue.
- Dr. Ian Landells, a dermatologist at the Landells Clinic; clinical chief of dermatology with Eastern Health, and clinical associate professor of dermatology and paediatrics at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s.
- Dr. Jason Rivers, medical director of Pacific Derm and clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who is now president of the Canadian Dermatology Association.