Aging Process: The Effects of Aging on Skin
Our skin is at the mercy of many forces as we age: sun, harsh weather, and bad habits. But we can take steps to help our skin stay supple and fresh-looking.
How your skin ages will depend on a variety of factors: your lifestyle, diet, heredity, and other personal habits. For instance, smoking can produce free radicals, once-healthy oxygen molecules that are now overactive and unstable. Free radicals damage cells, leading to, among other things, premature wrinkles.
There are other reasons, too. Primary factors contributing to wrinkled, spotted skin include normal aging, exposure to the sun (photoaging), and loss of subcutaneous support (fatty tissue between your skin and muscle). Other factors that contribute to aging of the skin include stress, gravity, daily facial movement, obesity, and evensleep position.
Skin Changes That Come With Age
As we grow older, changes like these naturally occur:
- Skin becomes rougher.
- Skin develops lesions such as benign tumors.
- Skin becomes slack. The loss of the elastic tissue (elastin) in the skin with age causes the skin to hang loosely.
- Skin becomes more transparent. This is caused by thinning of the epidermis (surface layer of the skin).
- Skin becomes more fragile. This is caused by a flattening of the area where the epidermis and dermis (layer of skin under the epidermis) come together.
- Skin becomes more easily bruised. This is due to thinner blood vessel walls .
Changes below the skin also become evident as we age. They include:
- Loss of fat below the skin in the cheeks, temples, chin, nose, and eye area may result in loosening skin, sunken eyes, and a “skeletal” appearance.
- Bone loss, mostly around the mouth and chin, may become evident after age 60 and cause puckering of the skin around the mouth.
- Cartilage loss in the nose causes drooping of the nasal tip and accentuation of the bony structures in the nose.
Sun and Your Skin
Exposure to sunlight is the single biggest culprit in aging skin.
Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages certain fibers in the skin called elastin. The breakdown of elastin fibers causes the skin to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to snap back after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily and takes longer to heal. So while sun damage may not show when you’re young, it will later in life.
Nothing can completely undo sun damage, although the skin can sometimes repair itself. So, it’s never too late to begin protecting yourself from sun exposure and skin cancer. You can delay changes associated with aging by staying out of the sun , covering up, wearing a hat, and making a habit of using sunscreen.
Other Skin Changes
Gravity, facial movement, and sleep position are the secondary factors that contribute to changes in the skin. When the skin loses its elasticity, gravity causes drooping of the eyebrows and eyelids, looseness and fullness under the cheeks and jaw (jowls and “double chin”), and longer ear lobes
Grade I acne is the mildest form of acne. There may be minor pimples but they will small, appear only very occasionally, and in small numbers (one or two).Blackheads and milia will be found, sometimes in great numbers, but there is no inflammation of Grade I acne.
Grade I acne is commonly seen in early adolescence, especially in the nose and/or forehead. Many adults also experience grade I acne, as blackheads on the nose and forehead. Milia are commonly found in the eye area and chin.
This type of acne can be successfully treated at home using an over-the-counter product containing salicylic acid. Results generally are seen quickly. Treating acne while it is still in its early stages helps prevent acne from progressing, especially in teens. Grade I acne may progress to Grade II if left untreated.
Grade II is considered moderate acne. There will be blackheads and milia, generally in greater numbers. You will start seeing more papules and the formation of pustules in this stage. They will appear with greater frequency, and general breakout activity will be more obvious. Slight inflammation of the skin is now apparent.
In teens, you may see the acne progress from the nose and forehead to other areas of the face. Acne may start to affect the chest and shoulders, with occasional breakouts on the back, especially in males. Adult women may find greater breakout activity in the cheeks, chin, and jaw line area, especially just before and during the menstrual cycle.
Grade II acne can still be treated at home, using over-the-counter products. In addition to a salicylic acid, a benzoyl peroxide lotion should be used daily to help kill the bacteria that cause inflamed breakouts. Grade II acne may progress to Grade III, especially if pimples are habitually picked at or squeezed.
This type of acne is considered severe. The main difference between Grade II acne and Grade III is the amount of inflammation present. The skin is now obviously reddened and inflamed. Papules and pustules have developed in greater numbers, and nodules will be present.
Grade III usually involves other body areas, such as the neck, chest, shoulders, and/or upper back, as well as the face. The chance of scarring becomes higher as the infection spreads and becomes deeper.
A dermatologist should treat acne at this stage. Grade III acne is usually treated with both topical and systemic therapies available only by prescription. Left untreated, Grade III acne may progress to Grade IV.
The most serious form of acne, Grade IV is often referred to as nodulocystic or cystic acne. The skin will display numerous papules, pustules, and nodules, in addition to cysts. There is a pronounced amount of inflammation and breakouts are severe. Cystic acne is very painful.
Acne of this severity usually extends beyond the face, and may affect the entire back, chest, shoulders, and upper arms. The infection is deep and widespread. Nearly all cystic acne sufferers develop scarring.
Grade IV acne must be treated by a dermatologist. It tends to be hard to control, and almost always requires powerful systemic medications in addition to topical treatments
may be caused by sun damage, inflammation, or other skin injuries, including those related to acne vulgaris. People with darker Asian, Mediterranean, or African skin tones are also more prone to hyperpigmentation, especially if they have excess sun exposure.
Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by an excess production of melanin. Hyperpigmentation can be diffuse or focal, affecting such areas as the face and the back of the hands.Melanin is produced by melanocytes at the lower layer of the epidermis. Melanin is a class of pigment responsible for producing color in the body in places such as the eyes, skin, and hair. As the body ages, melanocyte distribution becomes less diffuse and its regulation less controlled by the body. UV light stimulates melanocyte activity, and where concentrations of the cells are denser than surrounding areas, hyperpigmentation is effected. Can also be caused by using skin lightening lotions. Another form of hyperpigmentation is Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These are dark and discolored spots that appear on your skin following acne that has healed
Hyperpigmentation Treatment of hyperpigmentation may include hydroquinone, kojic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, azelaic acid, ascorbic acid, tretinoin (Retinol), topical glucocorticoids, and licorice extract. To help prevent these dark spots, sunscreen may be applied
What causes rosacea?
Experts are not sure what causes rosacea. They know that something irritates the skin, but rosacea doesn’t seem to be an infection caused by bacteria. It tends to affect people who have fair skin or blush easily, and it seems to run in families.
The pattern of redness on a person’s face makes it easy for a doctor to diagnose rosacea. And most of the time medical tests are not needed or used.
Rosacea is not caused by alcohol abuse, as people thought in the past. But in people who have rosacea, drinking alcohol may cause symptoms to get worse (flare).
Rosacea often flares when something causes the blood vessels in the face to expand, which causes redness. Things that cause a flare-up are called triggers. Common triggers are exercise, sun and wind exposure, hot weather, stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and hot baths. Swings in temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot can also cause a flare-up of rosacea.
What are the symptoms?
People with rosacea may have:
- A flushed, red face with sensitive, dry skin that may burn or sting.
- Small bumps and pimples or acne-like breakouts.
- Skin that gets coarser and thicker, with a bumpy texture.
- Dry, red, irritated eyes.
In rare cases, rosacea that is not treated may cause permanent effects, such as thickening of the skin on your face or loss of vision. It may cause knobby bumps on the nose, called rhinophyma (say “ry-no-FY-muh”). Over time, it can give the nose a swollen, waxy look. But most cases of rosacea don’t progress this far.