Many changes occur as we age. Your skin is no different. These skin changes can be attributed to environmental factors, nutrition, genetics and others. Sun exposure, however, remains the most powerful factor in determining how our skin ages. When it comes to your skin as you get older, there is more to worry about than age spots, wrinkles and sagging.
It is highly important that senior adults receive proper skin care because they are more susceptible to certain skin conditions due to specific changes that take place as the skin ages. Senior adults can begin to experience skin problems ranging from itching, skin tags and dryness to more serious skin conditions such as infection and ulcerations. Here are some common examples of what happens to skin as you age:
- Thin and Pale Skin: With aging, the outer skin layer thins. The actual number of pigment-containing cells decreases, but the ones that remain will increase in size. Therefore aging skin appears thinner as well as pale and translucent. Large pigmented spots, or age spots, may also appear in sun-exposed areas.
- Loss of Elasticity: Changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin’s strength and elasticity. This process known as elastosis is again more prevalent in sun-exposed areas of the skin. It produces a leathery, weather-beaten appearance in your skin.
- Bruising: The blood vessels of the dermis become more fragile in the elderly. This leads to easy bruising and senile purpura, which is areas of bleeding under the skin.
- Dry Skin: Your sebaceous glands produce less oil as you age. Men are less affected compared to women. Women experience dry skin after menopause due to less production of oil.
- Vulnerability: Because the subcutaneous fat layer thins, senior adults have less padding and insulation. Consequently, the risk of skin injury increases with age as well as the ability to maintain a normal body temperature.
Not all skin ages the same. For instance, blue-eyed, fair-skinned people show more aging skin changes than people with darker, more heavily pigmented skin. However, it is equally important that you take steps as a younger adult to protect your skin from skin problems later. Protecting yourself from sun exposure may be the single most important step you can take to prevent unwanted skin conditions, ranging from wrinkles to skin cancer. Olansky Dermatology Associates is committed to helping children as well as elderly patients with effective skin care treatments.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Jodi E. Ganz, Olansky Dermatology Associates
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