Aging is an inevitable and natural part of life. Nowhere does that seem more evident than in human skin. While not everyone’s skin ages at the same rate, many people notice the earliest signs of aging skin by their late twenties and early thirties. However, there are many ways in which you can prevent premature aging and keep your skin looking young as long as possible. Essentially, the rate at which your skin ages is partially up to you. Factors like lifestyle, diet, and even genetics can play a role in your skin’s aging process.
While it’s clear that not everyone ages the same way, there are some common signs of aging that most people share and experience as they get older. While most of the changes that occur in your skin are harmless to your health, it’s important to continue to take good care of your skin throughout your life. This may prevent more dangerous results of aging, such as skin cancer.
While these changes to your skin may not be visible to the naked eye, they will eventually translate into visible signs of aging. The biggest change that skin experiences as you get older is the loss of elastic tissue, which includes elastin and collagen. Elastin is a protein acts like a spring between connective tissues, allowing the skin to stretch and bounce back. Production of elastin actually stops after puberty, which is when you start aging. And, while elastin is a stretchy protein, collagen is actually a more rigid connector that exists in your skin, cartilage, bone, tendons, and elsewhere in your body. Loss of collagen is what causes your skin to lose its firmness.
Your epidermis (the surface layer of your skin) and dermis (layer of skin under the epidermis) go through some pretty drastic changes throughout your lifetime. Signs of aging that you may notice include a roughening texture to the skin, as well as a slackness that is caused by the loss of collagen and elastin. Fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration all become more visible as we get older. Some discoloration comes from sun damage, which causes your skin to produce more melanin in an effort to protect your skin from radiation. Further discoloration may come from the thinning of blood vessels, which can cause easier bruising as well as red areas in your skin.
Abnormal Changes in Aging Skin
As mentioned above, it is possible for your skin to develop dangerous conditions as a result of aging and lack of skin care. Skin cancer, for example, is the result of damage to the enzymes that rebuild skin cells. Cancerous growth starts in the epidermis, which has three main types of cells. The type of skin cancer you may develop depends on which type of cell houses the initial abnormal development. Two types of cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, are relatively easy to treat. The third, melanoma, is the rarest form of skin cancer, but it’s also the most dangerous. If you see a mole that changes shape, a scab that just won’t go away, or any other worrying issue concerning your skin, be sure to check in with your doctor. She can tell you if it’s something to keep an eye on.