In our dermatology clinics at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands, easy bruising & thin skin are common issues we hear about from our patients. As we age, these changes are seen more often. Most of the cases we see are in individuals over 50 to 60 years of age. Because this is so common, we wanted to prepare this information with details about why easy bruising & thin skin occur and what to do about it.
Easy Bruising & Thin Skin in Older Adults Best Dermatology Omaha & Council Bluffs
Because bruising more easily can be a sign of other more concerning things in rare cases, we first want to talk with you about what is considered the norm. In other words, what are the normal circumstances where we do not have to worry about an underlying, undiagnosed medical condition when patients develop fragile skin and/or easy bruising.
For starters, the most common area we see the problem is on the forearms. In some cases, we may also see it on the upper arms, the legs, and even more rarely on the upper chest or neck. Usually the bruising develops very gradually, where a person will initially start to have some easy bruising here and there, with them seeing much more bruising over months or years.
It’s worth pointing out that there are some other changes that patients may notice in addition to the bruising and fragile skin. Are the rings you wear on your fingers fitting more loosely or even sliding off? This is a commonly associated issue. The reason for this will make more sense with what we’ll discuss further on in this article.
Folks will also notice that they seem to develop bruising spontaneously, where they don’t remember specifically injuring an area and yet a bruise develops. This is because when younger, our skin is much more resilient so that later in life very minor bumps and contusions cause more remarkable bruising and bleeding or tears in the skin.
Now, why exactly does this occur in the first place? What is it about being “older” that makes us this way?
First and foremost, as the skin ages the overall amount of a substance in the skin called connective tissue declines. Connective tissue fibers give the skin:
- structure (shape and definition)
- elasticity (ability to stretch and spring back)
- allow the skin to hold more water
These fibers also form a coat of insulation surrounding and protecting our blood vessels. The loss of connective tissue with aging makes the skin more susceptible to minor injuries.
Exposure to the Sun
On top of all that, sun exposure & sun damage further causes these fibers to degrade. Therefore, the condition is especially worse in sun-exposed areas such as the forearms. This loss of structure is also what causes the problem with wearing rings that we already discussed. As the skin thins due to connective tissue loss, rings may no longer fit as they once did.
Next, many older adults take blood thinner medications, also known as anticoagulants, which can further increase the tendency towards bruising. Over the last 20 years, the number of blood clotting prevention medications that are prescribed has skyrocketed. At the time of the writing of this report in 2019 the common anticoagulants being prescribed include:
- Coumadin (warfarin)
- Plavix (clopidogrel)
- Pradaxa (dabigatran)
- Eliquis (apixaban)
- Lovenox (enoxaparin)
- Xarelto (rivaroxaban)
- Fragmin (dalteparin)
Vitamin E, fish oil, ibuprofen (Advil), naprosyn (Alene), and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) can also thin the blood and make this problem worse.
So finally, what can be done about the bruising & thin skin?
It is nearly impossible to reverse the effects of aging and ultraviolet light on the skin, but there are some steps you can take to help the issues you’re experiencing.
First, start to more aggressively protect yourself from the sun and other sources of UV light (tanning beds, etc.) right now! More UV light means more thinned skin and more issues.
Next, apply a thick moisturizer cream to your skin twice a day. At Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands we most often recommend Vanicream or CeraVe cream.
The best dermatologists in Omaha & Council Bluffs, know how moisturizer increases the ability of our skin to carry moisture. More moisture means more padding and protection for our skin.
Next, be especially cautious and mindful with what you do. Some physical activities carry with them greater risk of minor injury. The older you are, the more susceptible your skin is to bruising and tearing with minor injuries. Consider wearing protective gloves or long sleeves with more padding (like a sweatshirt) for added protection.
Finally, some patients find that homeopathic Arnica containing moisturizers may help bruises to fade more quickly.
There is one final thing we need to touch on for you. Easy bruising can rarely be a sign of underlying serious problems. If your circumstances don’t seem to fit the circumstances we have described, you should talk to your doctor for a check-up. Also, if you are having any of the following, you should see them:
- bleeding gums
- nose bleeds
- night sweats
- unexplained weight loss
- easy bruising in unusual areas such as your face
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists
We understand that the issue with easy bruising & thin skin can be both distressing and frustrating. If the information we presented doesn’t help you by reducing your worry and giving you a game plan for your skin, consider seeing us in a consultation at any of our Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands clinics in Omaha, Council Bluffs, or surrounding communities. For any information or to make an appointment please contact us today.