The skin is susceptible to changes over time. Time, harsh weather, the sun, diet, and poor habits affect skin quality and appearance. In many cases, how your skin ages will depend on your lifestyle or personal habits. People who smoke are susceptible to premature wrinkles and other skin issues. Taking good care of your skin will keep it looking smooth and supple.
The skin has different layers that can be divided into three main sections: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous layer. The epidermis is the outer layer that contains pigment, skin cells, and proteins.
The dermis is the middle layer containing blood vessels, skin cells, oil glands, hair follicles, and nerves. The middle layer provides nutrients for the epidermis. The inner or subcutaneous layer contains fat, blood vessels, sweat glands, and hair follicles.
The three layers have connective tissue made of collagen fibers for support and elastin fibers for strength and flexibility. Aging skin is thinner and more fragile, making it more susceptible to injury. It also takes longer to heal.
As people age, the skin changes in various ways. It often becomes rougher and may develop skin lesions. Loss of elastin causes the skin to become slack and hang loosely. It may also become more transparent due to thinning of the epidermis and is more fragile. Thinner blood vessels result in skin that is more easily bruised. Loss of fat below the skin results in a leaner, more skeletal appearance.
Several factors contribute to skin changes. They include:
Photoaging or sun exposure
Loss of subcutaneous tissue
Gravity and facial movement
Stress and lack of sleep
Sunlight exposure is one of the biggest culprits for skin aging. The sun’s UV rays damage elastin fibers, causing the skin to stretch, sag, and lose the ability to snap back from stretching. Sun damage may not be evident in youth, but it will often appear later in life. Damaged skin tears and bruises more easily. While sun damage is permanent, there are cosmetic procedures that can reverse some of the damage. Wearing sun protection can reduce exposure to UV rays.
Gravity and facial movement contribute to skin changes with age. When skin loses elasticity, it is prone to gravity. Facial movement causes lines to become more visible. Lines often appear on the forehead, the temples, cheeks, above the nose, and around the mouth.
Sleep creases appear due to the individual’s sleeping position and become more visible as the skin loses elasticity. Smokers frequently develop wrinkles around the mouth from the constant sucking motion.
As the skin dries with age, it tends to become itchier. The subcutaneous glands produce less oil as people age, making it difficult for the skin to remain moist. Women begin to produce less oil after menopause.
Men experience a minimal reduction, usually after the age of 80. Maintaining healthy skin is a lifelong process. Good nutrition, staying hydrated, using moisturizers, and wearing sun-protective clothing can keep the skin healthy for longer.
For more on how the skin changes with age, visit Skin Deep Laser MD at our office in Fort Worth, Texas. Call 817-263-SKIN to book an appointment today.