Ageing of Skin

Posted by Dr. Thaj

Human skin, like the other organs, undergoes chronological ageing. Skin ageing is influenced by the environment eg: sun exposure and life style factors like cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, low body mass index and menopausal status. Atmospheric pollution and psychological stress are among other factors.

Ageing of the skin can be intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic ageing is a naturally occurring process due to slow, but progressive and irreversible tissue degeneration. Genetic mutations and decreased levels of several hormones and cellular ageing contribute to this. Extrinsic ageing (photoageing) occurs due to UV and infrared radiation and physical factors(cold/ wind) Chronic UV exposure is the most potent environmental factor for ageing. Extrinsic ageing amplifies the changes associated with intrinsic skin ageing. Ageing affects the skin function and appearance. This leads to a low self esteem and poor social well being.

When does our skin start to age?
Ageing of the skin is different in each individual case. However, in our mid 20’s the skin’s ability to retain water starts to decrease. Most serious signs of ageing starts in 30’s and worsens gradually over the decades.

What are the signs of ageing?
Dryness of the skin, fine lines and wrinkles, sagging, prominent blood vesssels(telangiectasia)
blotchy pigmentation, freckles, lentigenes, harmless growths like skin tags, seborrhoeic keratoses

Care of ageing skin

  • Protection of the face from the sun is always important, and particularly in summer. Avoid outdoor activities during the middle of the day.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases facial lines and wrinkles, delays skin healing and is also bad for you. Exercise is good for the skin as well as for your general health.
  • Sunscreens should be applied daily on the face, more often when outdoors. Cover up when outside – sunscreens may protect against UVB but they are not effective against longer wavelengths.
  • Moisturisers can be used to smoothen the skin if it is dry and flaky.
  • Take plenty of exercise – active people appear younger. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables to provide natural antioxidants.
  • Consider treatments that rejuvenate aged skin. Consult a dermatologist for expert advice.
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamin-C, lipoic acid or retinoid creams applied regularly in the long term may reduce the number of fine wrinkles and fade blotchy pigmentation. In postmenopausal women a cream containing progesterone may improve skin elasticity and firmness.
  • Collagen, hyaluronic acid, polytetrafluoroethylene implants (dermal fillers) and fat grafts can disguise facial expression lines.They are given as injections.
  • Botulinum toxin injections are used to reduce frowning/look and lessen deep furrows near the eyes ,on the forehead and neck lines.
  • Resurfacing procedures such as dermabrasion, chemical peels, fractional laser treatment and laser resurfacing remove the top layer of damaged skin, which is replaced by new healthy cells.Pulsed dye laser helps to reduce the wrinkles around the eyes .
  • Vascular laser treatment can reduce unsightly facial veins and angiomas.
  • Thread veins on the legs can be treated by injections (sclerotherapy).
  • Radio frequency device(Thermage) is another useful tool to tighten, smoothen and contour the aged skin.This is a noninvasive method to turn back the clock.