The skin is the largest organ of our body, covering us from head to toe, protecting us from weather extremes, and keeping us safe from disease and injury are a few functions of the skin. While it’s no secret that our bodies change as we age, it’s also no secret that everything begins to look and feel a little different than it used to be as we are feeling them now.
Skin changes are one of the most noticeable indications of growing older.
ANATOMY AND LAYERS OF SKIN
Although the skin has several layers, it is generally divided into three major sections:
- EPIDERMIS. This is the outermost layer of skin composed of skin cells, pigments (melanocytes), and proteins. It also serves as a barrier against infection caused by external sources.
- DERMIS. Its the middle layer, containing blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, and oil glands. It also includes an arrangement of extracellular matrices (ECM) proteins such as collagen and elastin. A brief description of these proteins is worth mentioning.
- HYPODERMIS. The skin’s deepest layer contains sweat glands, hair follicles, blood vessels, and fat. It also acts as an insulator to average body temperature.
WHAT ARE THE SKIN COMPONENTS?
- Collagen is a protein that serves as one of the primary structural components of our skin. Collagen accounts for 75% of the skin’s support structure. It shields the skin from stress and pressure while also nourishing the epidermis. Collagen comes in at least 16 different varieties. The four major categories are type I, type II, type III, and Type IV.
I. This kind accounts for 90% of the collagen in your body and is composed of densely packed fibers. It gives skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth their structure.
II. This kind is composed of more loosely packed fibers in the elastic cartilage that cushions your joints.
III. This form of connective tissue provides structural support for muscles, organs, and arteries.
IV. This kind aids in filtering and is located in the skin’s layers.
- Elastin It’s another protein responsible for giving structure to your skin. Elastic fiber formation, organization, and integration with other cutaneous extracellular matrix proteins, proteoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans are critical for maintaining healthy skin structure, function, and attractiveness. Elastin is approximately 1,000 times more stretchable than collagen.
- Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and collagen and elastin GAGs are significant elements of dermal skin and are responsible for the skin’s external appearance. They can lock up to 1000 times of moisture than their own volume due to their string bonds with proteins. The GAG family contains multiple members, including hyaluronic acid (HA), and dermatan sulfate. These components help keep normal skin plump, smooth and hydrated by balancing salt and water levels. Several studies show that skin aging has fewer GAGs, especially Hyaluronic acid.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FACE AND BODY SKIN
|FACE SKIN||BODY SKIN|
WHY DOES OUR SKIN AGE?
Skin aging is an unavoidable feature of life, and everyone will have to deal with it at some point. Intrinsic aging is the process that occurs naturally over time, independent of external factors or stimuli. Collagen production starts to reduce in the twenties and continues the pattern. Collagen and elastin fibers become increasingly dense, clumped, and loose, resulting in inelastic and brittle skin and, eventually, wrinkles and drooping. Skin is expected to be drier, thinner and to develop wrinkles when growing older.
Extrinsic aging is the second type of skin aging that can occur. The difference between this and the primary cause of skin aging may be controlled because it is caused by environmental harm. It manifests itself as thickening of the cornified layer (the epidermis’ outermost layer), precancerous changes, skin cancer, freckles and sunspots, and massive losses of collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans. Extrinsic aging is characterized by wrinkles, fine lines, and wrinkle-like lines on the face, neck, and chest. In the progress of these processes, the skin becomes rough, uneven in tone, wrinkled, and age spots appear on it.
The findings of a new publication published in Nature reveal that a collagen protein known as COL17A1 is essential in maintaining healthy skin. Our skin’s ability to retain its suppleness is compromised as a result of declining quantities of this protein over time, causing skin aging,
ELASTIN AND COLLAGEN REDUCTION
Collagen type I levels begin to drop at the age of 25 and decline ratios up to 1% each year as time passes. Collagen I levels are reduced by 59% in irradiated skin (sunburned or UV radiation exposure ). The skin’s structural integrity deteriorates over time. Wrinkles begin to appear, dryness occurs, and following menopause, women see a substantial decrease in collagen production. Collagen synthesis decline beyond the age of 60 is a natural aging process.
As for elastin, the skin begins to lose its elasticity significantly in your 30s to 40s, especially during the first five years of menopause, when women’s skin loses around 30% of its collagen.
The epidermis layer decreases its cell development and reduces wear and tear. Thin skin results from the dermis producing less collagen. When these changes occur concurrently, the skin becomes more prone to crepe and wrinkle. The most typical indicator of thin skin is that it seems pretty transparent. In such circumstances, the individual may see their tendons, bones, or veins quite easily. This skin type is prone to injury, and people may even detect tears or bruises on their skin after the mildest injuries.
As you become older, the sebaceous glands generate less oil. Although the number of sweat glands does not change, sebum production decreases as much as 60%. Beginning after menopause, women’s oil production decreases progressively. Because of this, it may be more challenging to keep the skin hydrated, resulting in skin changes like dryness and irritation.
WRINKLING & SAGGING
As skin ages, it generates less elastin and collagen. With time, skin also changes progress and becomes susceptible to the effects of gravity, making it more prone to sag and droop and formation of wrinkles. These wrinkles are exacerbated by regular facial emotions like smiling, frowning, squinting, and similar movements. Loss of weight due to aging is also associated with skin changes. For instance, jowls under the chin and bags beneath the eyes are typically areas of skin that have fallen to gravity. Areas of the face (such as the eyes and lips) are particularly prone to lines and wrinkles.
- FINE LINES
Facial movement lines become increasingly noticeable as the skin loses its elasticity (often in the late ’30s and early ’40s). Horizontal lines may occur on the forehead, vertical lines may appear on the skin above the root of the nose (glabella), or little curved lines may appear on the temples, upper cheekbones, and around the lips.
LOSS OF ELASTICITY
Skin color becomes uneven as the function decreases at a rate of 8% to 20% per decade. Age spots are caused by hyperactive pigment cells. UV light accelerates the formation of melanin, a naturally occurring pigment that gives skin its color. Age spots form on skin that has been exposed to the sun for an extended period. Melanocytes (pigment-containing cells) drop in numbers. The surviving melanocytes grow in size, multiply and cluster in certain regions, resulting in what is referred to as age or liver spots. They are prevalent after the 40s.
BROKEN BLOOD VESSELS & LOSS OF VASCULATURE
It has long been recognized that between the ages of 20 and 70, blood flow to the skin decreases by 40%, and loss of vasculature has been reported up to 35% in research. Skin changes also include growing more prone to bruising and bleeding, particularly on arms and legs under the skin as the dermis’s blood vessels become weaker.
- FACIAL SHAPE CHANGES RELATED TO SKIN AGING
Our facial fat is evenly distributed when we’re young, with pockets around the eyes and mouth. But the skin aging-related most significant changes occur in the 40s and 50s. They can start as early as the mid-30s and last into old age. Age-related fat loss causes round features to sink and tight skin to loosen and sag. Meanwhile, the lower half of the face gains fat, resulting in a baggy or double chin and jowly neck.
Striae (stretch marks) are long, narrow streaks or lines on the skin. They are very prevalent and can also occur with skin aging apart from abrupt weight gain and loss. Our skin’s natural collagen and elastin levels drop with age. The dermis connective fibers progressively stretch to allow slower growth. But with age, the dermis tears due to a slower skin cell renewal cycle; it loses firmness, flexibility, and the ability to heal, revealing deeper layers of skin. This contributes to the appearance of stretch marks. They can occur on a range of body parts, including the stomach, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, and lower back.
Another skin change that affects us as we age is the development of cellulite. Cellulite is a cosmetic condition that appears as lumpy and dimpled skin. It is quite prevalent, affecting up to 98% of females, as a study mentions. While cellulite poses no damage to your physical health, it is frequently seen as unpleasant and unattractive.
The leading cause of cellulitis a structural changes in the fat cells and connective tissues that reside beneath the surface of your skin. These skin changes might enlarge fat cells and cause them to protrude outward into the connective tissue beneath them. Moreover, alterations in the blood flow to regions affected by cellulite may accumulate fluid, resulting in a lumpy appearance of cellulite on the skin. The formation factors are similar to skin aging, like hormones, lifestyle, gender, and stress.
Cellulite, which is more present in women, most typically occurs on the thighs, abdomen, and buttocks.
Skin Tags are tiny, noncancerous skin changes and growths typically the same color as your skin. They frequently resemble a cluster of skin tissue protruding from a small stem. They might be darker at times and resemble a raised mole. Most skin tags are between 1 and 5 mm in diameter, although some can develop to a few centimeters in length. Skin tags are harmless but can be an annoying skin problem. According to studies, 50% of all adults will have at least one skin tag in their lifetime.
Moles (nevus) is a flat or raised discoloration on the skin that is often black and can form anywhere on the body. Once a mole grows and becomes solid, it may persist for decades; moles typically become more elevated and less pigmented over time.
Seborrheic keratoses are the most prevalent neoplasm among the elderly, affecting up to 60% of this population. Seborrheic keratoses can have a flat, velvety, smooth, or verrucous surface. Lesions are typically brown or yellow-white in hue, but they can also be red, grey, waxy, yellowish, black, or white.
SKIN AGING TIMELINE AND HOW SKIN CHANGES
Changes in the skin can happen at each age, as presented in this table. The timeline is meant for reference as the timeline can differ from person to person depending on race, genetic, lifestyle, and diet.
|Adolescence (12-14 years)||
|Youth (20-25 years)||
|Adulthood (25-35 years)||
|Middle age ( 35-50 years )||
ROLE OF HORMONES IN SKIN AGING
Your skin is covered with microscopic glands called sebaceous glands, which release an essential oil called sebum that aids in maintaining the health of your skin. These glands contain receptors that are activated by your hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Between the ages of 10 and 14, a female’s body produces more estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This hormonal surge initiates the menstrual cycle and other puberty-related changes. The rise in testosterone stimulates sebaceous glands, causing greasy skin and blocked follicles. Excess sebum is one of the causes of puberty acne.
Menopause naturally results in a reduction in estrogen levels and an increase in the testosterone/progesterone ratio. This estrogen deficiency results in significant dehydration due to increased trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). As a result, women’s skin becomes drier and more wrinkled—collagen deficiency results in a loss of skin suppleness and firmness.
Menopause is an evident part of a woman’s life. What other changes are connected to menopause, and how to deal with them? Read the full article here.
Skin continues to grow drier and less elastic during the postmenopausal era. This results in skin that is thinner and more wrinkled and volume depletion due to severe collagen loss. The dermis, the deeper layer of the skin that gives its turgor and tautness, thins down, giving the skin a droopier look showing skin aging at its maximum.
Following is the table that shows the levels of hormones at different stages of life
|Stage||Estrogen pg/dl||Progesterone Levels ng/dl||Testosterone ng/dl|
|Pregnancy 1st trimester||188–2497||11–90||26-211|
|Pregnancy 2nd trimester||1278–7192||25–89.4||34-243|
|Pregnancy 3rd trimester||3460–6137||58–300 or more||63-309|
|Menopause||< 20||< 0.4||2-41|
FACTORS AFFECTING SKIN CHANGES AND SKIN AGING
Like any other, skin aging is a steady loss of structural integrity and physiological function caused by internal and external causes. Intrinsic skin aging develops inevitably due to physiological changes occurring at various yet unalterable genetically fixed rates. Extrinsic aging involves exposure to certain materials.
|Intrinsic Factors||Extrinsic Factors|
Your skin starts to age in your mid-20s, but you may not notice it. Your favorite products may no longer function as you age, as the skin requires different treatments as it experiences various changes. Consult a dermatologist now about how to have smoother, softer skin, regardless of age. It’s never too late to start caring for your skin! To find exactly out how to prevent your skin and what will suit your skin, read our researched solutions in a summarized article here.