AS OUR SKIN grows older, it gradually loses
moisture, elasticity, fat and mass. It
becomes thinner, more fragile, less resistant to disease, slower to heal, more prone
to bruising and less able to regulate body
temperature. The ability of cells to renew
themselves declines, the underlying fat
disappears, the number and efficiency of
the pigment-producing melanocytes diminish, the sweat glands slow down, and the
elastic fibers that sustain skin tone become
less and less resilient.
In general, very fair skin shows its age
more and earlier than dark skin, which is
protected by more pigment. Genetics matter, so if your parents had youthful skin,
yours is also likely to develop fewer wrinkles.
For women, female hormones help to maintain the subcutaneous fat, the connective
tissue and moisture. That’s why women
often notice many changes in the first few
years after menopause. On the other hand,
men tend to have oilier and thicker skin
that is slower to show its age.
You can’t avoid the normal changes, but
you can hold them off much longer than
your careless peers if you treat your skin
right, according to Dr. Patricia Farris, a
dermatologist, clinical associate professor
at Tulane University School of Medicine
and member of the American Academy of
“The single most important thing you
can do for your skin is to stay out of the sun,
especially in the middle of the day,” she says.
“Keep your skin covered by clothing, a sun-
block or a broad-spectrum sunscreen with
an SPF of at least 30. For more protection,
apply a layer of antioxidant cream under
the sunscreen to boost the skin’s ability to
Don’t smoke, because it constricts the
blood vessels that nourish the skin and
breaks down collagen molecules, causing
wrinkles. Get regular vigorous exercise that
increases the blood supply to the skin.
Drink plenty of liquids, and avoid dehydra-
tors like alcohol, caffeine, scented skin care
products, dry air and saunas.
Those are the basics, but there’s more:
• Because aging epidermal cells become
drier and don’t renew themselves as quickly,
you must now add moisture and oil constantly. Use a moisturizer every day, especially right after bathing, applying it to
damp skin. This applies to men as well as
women. Men tend to suffer from dry, flaky
skin and eczema as they get older, because,
says Farris, “moisturizing is not a guy
• Grease up regularly at night, using
petroleum jelly or a night cream, and
remember that more expensive doesn’t
necessarily mean better.
• Don’t be obsessively clean. Wash your
skin as little as possible, using warm—never
hot—water. (Hot water dries your skin.)
Take short showers, and use soap that contains a moisturizer. A washcloth, used gently, will help remove some of the dead skin
and encourage cell renewal.
• To help repair skin that’s already been
damaged, regular use of tretinoin (Retin-A)
or topical vitamin C can help stimulate
collagen and minimize superficial wrinkles,
liver spots and scaly areas. Alpha-hydroxy
acids may also improve texture and reduce
fine lines. C
Costco member Joan Rattner Heilman is a
freelance journalist and author who lives in
Mamaroneck, New York.
FOR YOUR HEALTH
A BITE FROM an infected blacklegged
tick—also called a deer tick or bear tick—
is how humans contract Lyme disease. The
offending tick carries a bacterium that
causes Lyme disease. Anyone can get
Lyme disease, but it is most commonly
seen in children under the age of 10.
The blacklegged tick can be found in half
of all U.S. counties. The geographic areas
with the highest concentrated risk are:
• Mid-Atlantic through Northeast
states, Maryland to Maine.
• Upper Midwest states.
• Northern California through the
Pacific Northwest states.
Who is at greatest risk?
People who spend recreational time in
high-risk areas doing activities such as hiking, off-road biking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting are at the greatest risk.
Other at-risk people include those who
work outdoors in high-risk areas in jobs
such as construction work, landscaping,
forestry, farming, railroad work, land surveying, oil field work and utility line work.
Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
If you live or work in an area where
Lyme disease is common and have been
bitten by a tick, see a doctor for any of
• An expanding red rash (bull’s-eye)
around the suspected tick bite.
Lyme disease can be diagnosed by a
blood test in combination with a review of
symptoms and a history of a tick bite. It is
easily treated if caught early. Oral antibiotics
taken for a few weeks are often effective.
Protect yourself in high-risk areas
• Use insect repellents.
• Wear light-colored clothing to make it
easier to see ticks.
• Wear clothing that protects from
insects, such as hats, long-sleeve shirts,
high boots and pants tucked into socks.
• Shower following exposure.
• Wash and dry exposed clothing at
high temperature settings.
Search for Lyme disease information on
• Centers for Disease Control and
• National Park Service,
© GOODLUZ / SHUTTERSTOCK
Costco warehouses and Costco.com offer
a wide variety of skin-care products,
including lotions, creams and Retin-A.