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How Does Skin Age? Revealing Skin Changes From Puberty to Adulthood into the 70s.

What happens to skin as we age and all the skin changes.

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.
anatomy of skin and skin changes
Scientific medical illustration of human skin layers

WHAT ARE THE SKIN COMPONENTS?

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

While whole skin serves the same purpose of protecting us and keeping our other critical organs in their proper positions, face skin is different from body skin.

                         FACE SKIN                              BODY SKIN
  • The skin on our face is thinner than the skin on the rest of our body because it is not subjected to the same “wear and tear” as the skin on our feet, knees, or elbows. The facial epidermis is about 0.12 mm thick.
  • Facial skin is supplied with numerous blood arteries, hair follicles, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands (oil glands) on T-Zone, contributing to this fragile skin’s protection, healing, and moisturization.
  • Facial skin heals faster due to this abundant blood supply.
  • The fat layer is less on the face making it more susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Body skin is thicker and less sensitive than facial skin. It’s about 0.60mm in thickness.
  • Body skin has lesser oil and sebaceous glands and is drier at the elbows, knees, and feet, where the skin is thickest. However, more sweat glands are present on the body’s skin.
  • Body skin is comparatively slower in healing than that of the face. As it takes longer to replace current skin cells with new ones, dead cells can remain longer on your body, making it seem dry, dull, and sometimes even flaky.
  • Contains a prominent fat layer and lesser chances of wrinkles and fine lines development.

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,

It is believed that prolonged sun exposure accounts for approximately 80% of facial 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.

  • SKIN THINNINGimage of skin changes as thinning

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.

  • DRYNESS

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 & SAGGINGskin aging and wrinkles

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

skin changes fine linesFacial 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

The skin loses elasticity due to a connective tissue breakdown, resulting in thinner skin as we age. It is medically known as elastosis.

  • AGE SPOTSimage of skin aging liver spots

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.

  • STRETCH MARKS stretch marks for skin changes

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.

  • CELLULITE

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.cellulite as skin change

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.

  • BENIGN NEOPLASMS

Skin Tags are tiny, noncancerous skin changes and growths typically the same color as your skin. skin tag as skin changeThey 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.moles as skin changes 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 keratosis 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)
  • Hormonal changes cause the skin to become rougher, porous, and fatty. Acne affects many youngsters.
  • Many teenagers harm their skin by tanning, tattooing, DIY treatments, sleeping poorly, and eating junk food. These things can cause damage to the immune system, premature skin aging, obesity leading to acne, and even cancers of the skin.
  • Despite this, the skin accepts everything with mere side effects or visible changes on the body due to a robust immune system at that age.
Youth (20-25 years)
  • By the mid-20s, you’ll see actual skin changes and signs of aging on the skin.
  • Collagen and elastin production slows from the age of 25, resulting in pigmentation.
Adulthood (25-35 years)
  • The skin at this point starts to become dull and less elastic.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles begin to show around the eyes and mouth.
  • The skin’s exfoliation process slows by 28% in our twenties, allowing dead skin cells to gather and adhere together for more extended periods.
Middle age ( 35-50 years )
  • Skin changes become more prominent when hyaluronic acid levels drop, and skin gets thinner.
  • Moisture transmission from the dermis to the epidermis slows, and fat cells begin to shrink.
  • Subcutaneous fat loss causes forehead wrinkles, deeper lip creases, and neck drooping. In the mid-40s, the chin begins to drop, and the lower eyelids seem baggier. Scars and UV damage become more visible due to protein damage in the skin.
  • Skin becomes very dry as sebum production slows owing to estrogen reduction due to menopause.
  • Collagen production has lowered to the maximum level, and skin becomes dry and more susceptible to being bruised, damaged, or fractured due to a reduction in the size of the sebaceous (oil) glands.
50 +
  • Menopause and hormonal changes cause new wrinkles to form and the dermis and epidermis to shrink substantially.
  • Spider veins, age spots, and skin tags develop and may also experience dilated superficial blood vessels making skin super dry and wrinkly.

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
Pre-ovulation 20-150 < 0.89  
Ovulation 40-350 ≤ 12  
Post-ovulation 30-450 1.8–24 6-86
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

The greatest risk factor for having low estrogen is age. As women age and approach menopause, it is typical for estrogen levels to drop. 

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
  • Age. It usually begins in the late 20s.
  • Genetic. 
  • Hormonal effects and menopause. 
  • Ethnicity.

 

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.

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Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.

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