Your skin changes with age, but the lifestyle and skin care choices you make can help it stay healthy as you get older.
Like the rest of your body, your skin changes as you age. The effects of aging on skin can depend on your genetics, diet, lifestyle habits, and how well you've protected your skin from the sun over the years.
As we age, our skin often gets thinner, less elastic, more transparent, and drier. We are more likely to develop wrinkles, age spots, and bruises. Our risk of developing skin cancer goes up, as well.
Some of these effects of aging on skin are simply due to time taking its toll on our health and appearance and are beyond our control. The good news is that many of them are due to lifestyle factors that we can modify. We can't stop the clock or turn it back, but we may be able to slow it down.
As we age, our glands produce less oil and sweat, which can cause dryness and itching. Dry, rough patches are common in older people on their lower legs, elbows, and arms.
You don't need to read this article to know that fine lines and wrinkles may appear on your face, neck, and chest as you age. Sun exposure is one of the biggest culprits. Smoking and repeated facial expressions such as squinting and smiling can also help make your skin less elastic and your wrinkles more noticeable. You wouldn't want to limit your smiling or laughing, but there are other things you can do to help prevent lines from forming or becoming very noticeable.
As you age, your blood vessels become fragile, and your skin becomes thin. This makes you more likely to bruise, and your bruises may take longer to heal.
These flat brown spots, also called liver spots, are caused by long-term exposure to the sun. They vary in size and usually appear on your face, hands, shoulders, and arms. Age spots are not a health issue, but if you don't like the way they look, you can use a bleaching cream with hydroquinone (available by prescription and over the counter in a lower strength) to lighten them.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the US Department of Health and Human services, 40 to 50 percent of Americans who, according to the National Institutes of Health, you should check your skin once a month for new growths, sores that don't heal, bleeding moles, and other changes.
By Joelle Klein
National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
National Institutes of Health, Skin Care and Aging
MedlinePlus, Aging Changes in Skin
WebMD, The Effects of Aging on Skin
Mayo Clinic, Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Foundation, Prevention Guidelines
WebMD, 23 Ways to Reduce Wrinkles
MedicineNet, Effects of Aging on Skin
Mayo Clinic, Easing Bruising as You Age
US Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy Aging
American Cancer Society, How Do I Protect Myself From UV Rays?
United States Environmental Protection Agency, UV Index
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.