Senior Self-care

By Doug Mayberry

April 27, 2020 4 min read

Q: I'm finding that my skin is getting more fragile and dry with every year. Winter is especially harsh on my tender skin.

I've resorted to showering less frequently, which has helped. On the other hand, I don't feel clean, and I worry that people are judging me.

What's the best way to stay clean?

A: Bodily changes are a natural part of aging, but they sure can be irritating and frustrating! There are ways for you to stay clean and take care of your skin.

Look for soaps specifically designed for aging skin. Check the label for shea butter, which is especially helpful.

Apply lotion regularly, especially to your hands, elbows and knees.

To maintain your hygiene between showers, apply deodorant regularly and use dry shampoo on your hair.

Although bathing less frequently may be a good idea, there's no need to feel self-conscious! -- Doug

*Denture Care

Q: I've had cavities all my life and had to have several teeth taken out.

The dentist is insistent that I be careful about removing my dentures at night and cleaning them, but I'm skeptical. As far as I can see, the damage is already done, and I don't especially want anybody to see my missing teeth.

Does it really matter if I'm a little lazy about cleaning them?

A: Even with dentures, dental hygiene is essential.

One of the primary risks with dentures is the potential to develop a fungal infection. The material of dentures, acrylic resin, is prone to developing a microbe infection called candidiasis. Wearing dentures increases your likelihood of infection.

Symptoms to watch out for include white lesions; bumps along your cheeks and tongue; sores in the roof or back of your mouth; white, creamy material that can be wiped away; and cracks at the corners of your mouth.

Fungal infections are hard to get rid of, as fungi are more similar to human cells than bacteria. Although there are medications that combat fungal infections, you will be susceptible to redeveloping the condition, even after treating it.

If you develop an infection, you will likely need to get a prescription medication to target it.

Some recent research has found that fungal infections in the mouth can have more widespread, deleterious effects. These infections can spread into your bloodstream and potentially lead to swelling around the brain. Researchers are now investigating links between oral fungal infections and Alzheimer's disease.

For your health, remove the dentures nightly. Soaking them in a denture cleanser will help to lift bacteria, which can be brushed away the next morning. For a periodical deeper clean, you can also soak them in bleach diluted with water.

When you go to the dentist for your regular checkups, bring your dentures along with you. Your dentist can examine them for signs of infection and clear away plaque.

Some good news for the future is recent research into antifungal dentures. These dentures will be designed to nip fungal infections in the bud, relieving people like you from health risks. We hope to see them in the next few years, but in the meantime you should stay vigilant. -- Emma, Doug's granddaughter

Doug Mayberry's column, "Dear Doug," can be found at www.creators.com.

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