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Is aging taking a toll on your skin?

skinSkin aging is a slow process that occurs throughout our lives. Aging happens gradually, and sometimes you may not notice what is happening to your appearance over time.

Scott & White dermatologist Palak Parekh, MD explains what can happen to our skin as we age.

What Happens to Skin as You Age

“The top layer of our skin, the epidermis, is our first barrier to mitigating the damaging effects of our external environment,” explains Dr. Parekh.

The cells in this top layer of skin slowly lose the ability to repair and regenerate, making our skin look duller. As we age, it is also more difficult for this layer to overcome damage from our environment.

This lessened ability can also predispose you to other signs of skin aging like sun spots, blemishes, mottled pigmentation, and even pre-cancers and skin cancers.

“I do recommend that if you have signs of skin aging, you should become more familiar with your skin,” says Dr. Parekh. “It is prudent to periodically examine your skin for any new, changing, bleeding, or growing lesions and to bring these to the attention of your regular doctor or a dermatologist.”

Thinner Skin

As we age naturally, our skin becomes thinner and the collagen support (good texture, shape, elasticity) lessens over time. Dr. Parekh says this can lead to volume loss, sagging, and wrinkle formation.

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As the skin becomes thin, you may also start to see more of your blood vessels, especially in sun-exposed areas like your face, lower neck and upper chest. These areas also may begin to appear unhealthy, yellow, or leather-like due to the changes in your skin collagen from significant sun exposure.

Slowing Down the Process of Skin Aging

“We can help slow down the process of skin aging and hold onto our youthful appearance first by modifying the two most powerful factors involved in accelerating skin aging – smoking and sun exposure,” says Dr. Parekh.

  • Sun protection
    • Sun protection includes avoiding the mid-day sun, wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen. This will go a long way in slowing down the skin aging clock and may even help reverse some of the signs of skin aging.
      • Dr. Parekh recommends a sunscreen with a SPF of 50 and a product that is broad-spectrum (protecting against the harmful effects of both UVA and UVB rays).
  • Products
    • Dr. Parekh says there are several over-the-counter and prescription products to help slow down the aging process.
      • Moisturizers help hydrate your skin to help impart a youthful look and combat the dryness that is associated with aging skin.
      • You can buy Vitamin A-derived, sold as retinol products, over-the-counter or prescription-strength retinoids to help mitigate the natural aging process. They can help you hold onto volume longer and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Cosmetic Procedures
    • There are bleaching creams, lasers and light devices, fillers, Botox treatment, and other cosmetic procedures that may also reverse some of the signs of aging.

Even though there are cosmetic skin remedies to help combat the damage already done, the best idea is to protect your skin as much as you can as you get older.

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Is aging taking a toll on your skin?