Skin care, continence and foot care

Skin care

As you age, your skin becomes thinner. Scratches, cuts or bumps can take longer to heal. You may have dry and itchy skin – patches feeling rough and scaly – on legs, elbows or arms. There are some things you can do to protect your skin:

  • keep moving - change position regularly
  • walk - even a short walk between rooms or marching on the spot for a few seconds will reduce pressure on the skin, help your circulation and muscle/skin health and ease stiffness.

What should I look out for?

Look for any small, red/purple patches, dry skin, wounds, blisters, sores or grazes. They can be itchy or painful - don’t scratch!

What helps?

Itchy skin is not usually serious – you can ask a pharmacist and:

  • moisturise daily using unperfumed products
  • take warm (not hot) showers/baths in less time
  • hold a damp towel to the skin
  • don’t sunbathe or UV tan
  • stop smoking
  • don't scratch!

You need to be careful the irritated area doesn’t get infected or form an ulcer – this makes it more painful and causes more problems. Avoid pressure on the area and talk to a professional.

What should I do if I’m worried?

If you’ve got any new or worsening skin issues, particularly wounds or a painful area, talk to your GP, a pharmacist or a nurse working with you.

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As you get older, you might feel you need the toilet more often, more urgently or unexpectedly. Some people are so afraid of being ‘caught short’, they avoid going out.

No need to worry or be embarrassed

You might worry about talking about any bladder or bowel problems you have, but it’s a medical problem like any other. In many cases, it can be cured or managed - please talk to your GP.

Common problems include:

  • needing to wee or poo more often or urgently
  • leaking wee or poo when coughing, exercising, etc.
  • difficulty starting to wee or straining to poo
  • wetting the bed

What should I do?

  • Be alert for changes in your need to use the toilet as above, including any pain when weeing.
  • Be particularly alert to any blood in your wee or pee.
  • You should talk to a GP or a nurse working with you.

What helps?

Some helpful tips include:

  • drinking more water to make your wee less concentrated
  • drinking fewer alcohol and caffeine drinks like coffee
  • keeping mobile and exercise to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
  • keeping skin clean, dry and moisturised if you’re having bladder or bowel problems
  • do not rush when you do need to go in case you fall

You may need products, like pads, simple aids or equipment (if you’re struggling) to help you use the toilet. Your GP or professional working with you can advise you. To discuss issues with bladder or bowel problems, talk to your GP.

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Foot care

Looking after your feet is really important – they help you to get out and about, and they are important for your strength and balance. As you get older you might develop foot pain and need help to look after your feet and toes.

If you’re able, there are many simple things you can do to keep your feet healthy and well, and keep yourself safe from falls. 


  • Keeping your toenails short will help keep feet feeling comfortable - nails that are too long can press against the end of shoes and cause soreness. Poorly cut toenails can become ingrown. If you’re struggling to cut your own nails, ask a family member or friend for help. If you can’t cut your toenails, professionals called chiropractors/podiatrists can help.
  • Regularly clean and moisturise your feet.
  • Keep your feet dry and change your socks routinely to avoid infections like athlete’s foot.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes and slippers, and avoid walking indoors in bare feet, socks or tights to avoid falls. High-sided shoes with low heels, thin soles and a good grip are a good choice.
  • Check regularly for cracked skin, blisters and signs of infection.

As you get older, it’s worth getting your feet and toes checked regularly, particularly if you have diabetes, mobility issues or foot pain.

A chiropodist/podiatrist (they are the same thing) can often treat problems like corns, cracked skin and ingrown toenails and offer advice. Also, by looking at your feet, professionals can spot whether you might have other conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or problems with circulation in your legs. You could talk to your GP who may refer you to an NHS podiatry service; or you could pay privately.

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Page last updated:

June 15, 2023