Age brings about several changes in the skin which is partly a natural process of aging and to some extent determined by one’s health, lifestyle and environment. Age-related changes of the skin do not begin overnight but are rather a gradual process often starting as early as the late 30s or early 40s. These skin changes can be minimized to some extent but totally avoiding the effects of aging on the skin is not as yet possible.
Nevertheless the medical and cosmetic industry are constantly researching and testing new products and procedures to undo the effects of aging on the skin or limiting the extent of these changes. Some are effective but only to a limit and all too often there are gimmicks on the market which are ineffective and costly. Understanding the age-related changes of the skin and methods to counteract it where possible often involves simple and inexpensive measures.
Aging is known to cause changes in the firmness, moisture, texture and barrier function of the skin. This may be seen in the form of :
It is not always aging on its own that is responsible for the development of these skin conditions. A person’s overall state of health, sun exposure in life and even the senior years, cigarette smoking, alcohol use and even nutrition that are contributing factors. Geographical location may also play a role beyond just sun exposure, as hot, windy and dusty climates often have a profound impact on the skin.
Wrinkles are the most common type of skin complaint associated with aging. These folds or creases in the skin are unavoidable and most prominent on the area of the body exposed to the sun. Despite the numerous products and procedures to treat or limit wrinkling, none can provide lasting results. Sun exposure, cigarette smoking and nutrition are all modifiable factors that can reduce the extent of wrinkle formation. However, it is also a genetically determined process and this cannot be altered. Most wrinkles are superficial and thin (fine surface lines) but some can be much deeper and broader (deep furrows).
The different measures to prevent or minimize wrinkles applies to almost all age-related skin changes. However, some conditions like sagging are difficult to prevent entirely and also depends on various other factors that cannot always be easily treated. The main approach to preventing wrinkles is good sun protection from as early in life as possible. This involves a combination of sunscreen use and avoiding direct or prolonged exposure to the sun when possible.
Skin moisturizers help to limit premature wrinkles but cannot prevent wrinkles with advancing age. Cigarette smoking is a well known contributing factor to wrinkles, even earlier in life. Stopping smoking is therefore essential and within weeks and months after quitting, some of the wrinkling may reverse to a certain degree. A balanced diet, particularly when rich in fresh fruit and raw vegetables, also aids with a health skin and may reduce the effects of aging on the skin.