Skin faces the wrath of many external forces – sun, wind, pollution and our habits. The relentless battering of these elements can affect your skin. Your skin starts becoming drier, gets wrinkly and loses its overall elasticity with age.
How your skin ages depends on various factors like lifestyle, habits, diet, heredity, etc. Other factors include exposure to the sun (photoaging), pollution, loss of subcutaneous fat, stress, obesity and even sleep position.
Changes in the skin in old age
As we grow older, our skin shows signs of wear. These are natural changes that happen over time.
- Rougher skin
- More benign tumors
- Loss of elasticity. Skin becomes slack
- Transparent skin due to the thinning of epithelial tissues
- Skin becomes fragile because the epidermis and dermis start coming together
- You may bruise easily because of thinner blood vessel walls
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Changes under the skin in old age
Skin damage happens not only on the surface of the skin. As we age, the layers beneath the skin also undergo certain changes.
- Loss of subcutaneous fat beneath the skin in areas like cheeks, chin, nose and below the eyes. This gives your face a gaunt and skeletal look
- Bone loss, especially around the mouth and chin. This usually happens after 60, causing the skin to pucker around the mouth
- Cartilage loss in the nose that causes the nasal tip to droop
How sun causes dryness of skin
One of the biggest reasons for skin aging is sun exposure. Regular and prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) damages the skin. The fiber elastin, that is responsible for holding the skin tight, loses its elasticity. Skin does not return to its original state once it is stretched. It becomes slack and saggy. Skin also starts bruising easily and shows the tendency to heal slowly in case of injuries. The skin becomes dry and rough. Most skin damage is not visible in young age. It shows only in later years.
Sun damage is not reversible, though the extent of damage can be controlled. The skin has the ability to repair itself. Laser treatments are effective to some extent. However, good habits like applying sunscreen lotion before stepping out in the sun, covering up, using a hat and avoiding going out in the sun can slowdown sun damage.
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Other factors that cause dry skin
Facial movement, sleep position, and even gravity play a role in damaging skin and making it dry and wrinkly. Habits like smoking and drinking alcohol are especially notorious for causing dry skin. The effects may not show immediately, but as we age, they become more obvious. Laugh lines, crow’s feet, wrinkles, rough, dry and papery skin are all signs of skin damage. While some cannot be avoided, some changes happen whether or not you follow precautions.
Tips for healthy skin in old age
- Cleanse and moisturize: Make cleansing and moisturizing a regular part of your skincare routine. Select natural cleansers rather than cleansers that contain fragrances, alcohol or deodorant. Cleansers with glycerine or jojoba oil are best for most skin types. They do not dry out your skin. Use a light moisturizer after every bath that will get absorbed easily. A heavy moisturizer will make your face oily and greasy.
- Use warm water for washing your face: Hot water dries out skin and also causes skin damage. Use warm water to wash your face or even for a bath. Warm water affects your skin lesser and you feel rejuvenated.
- Avoid soap: Soaps rob your skin of essential oils. Use soap-free cleansers for clean, glowing skin.
- Use sunscreen: Before stepping out, always remember to apply a good sunscreen with high SPF value for maximum protection against harmful UV rays.
- Protect yourself from sunlight: Though exposure to sunlight is good, too much exposure can cause problems. Use scarves, hats or umbrellas to protect yourself from direct sun. Use gloves and socks to prevent your hands and feet from getting tanned.
- Drink water: Water is an elixir that keeps your skin healthy and glowing. Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day.
- Stop smoking: Smoking is a major cause of dry skin. Stop, or at least reduce smoking, so that your skin remains healthier for longer.
- Visit a dermatologist: Drying is natural in old age. If you feel that your skin is too dry even after you take ample care of it, it would be better to consult a dermatologist to take care of your skin issues.
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