The Effects of Aging on Skin

Post Date: March 2017  |  Category: Health Tips Senior Health Skin Care

Photo of a woman putting on face lotion in the bathroom mirror.

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.

Dry, Itchy Skin

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.

Prevention Tips:

  • Use moisturizer all over your body and face every day. Moisturizing body creams, such as Aveeno Active Naturals Moisture Repair Cream, are thicker and better to use in the winter than body lotions, which are thinner and tend to have a higher water content.
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your room at night.
  • Take fewer baths and showers. When you do take baths and showers, use mild soap and warm water because it's less drying than hot water.

Wrinkles and Fine Lines

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.

Prevention Tips:

  • Minimize your time in the sun.
  • When exposed to the sun, use protective clothing, a hat, and sunscreen every day, even in the winter. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a sunscreen product with an SPF of at least 15.
  • If you smoke, consider quitting. If you are ready to quit smoking, talk with your Rite Aid Pharmacist about Rite Aid's personalized Quit For You program.
  • Get enough sleep. If you don't catch enough Zs, your body produces extra cortisol, a hormone that breaks down skin cells.
  • Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your side or stomach can cause sleep creases. These creases may become more visible after the skin starts losing its elasticity.

Bruises

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.

Prevention Tips:

  • Remove items and clutter in your house that may lead to falls or bumps.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to provide extra padding.
  • See your doctor if you notice frequent large bruises or if you or a family member has a history of easy bruising or significant bleeding.

Age Spots

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.

Prevention Tips:

  • Minimize your time in the sun.
  • Wear protective clothing and a hat and sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher when exposed to the sun.
  • See your doctor if you notice that an age spot has grown, darkened in color, or become itchy or tender.

Skin Cancer

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.

Prevention Tips:

  • Limit or avoid exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning booths.
  • If you are planning to spend time outside, wear sunscreen and protective clothing, including sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Remember that the sun's UV rays can reach the ground, even on cloudy or cold days. Before heading outside, you may want to check out the UV Index, which gives you an idea of how strong the UV rays are in your area on a specific day along with recommendations for sun protection.

By Joelle Klein

 

Sources:

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.