?Aging skin?(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Manila Bulletin, May 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

?Aging skin?(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)


BEAUTY is only skin deep, but the appearance of your skin is the standard by which people judge health and biological age. No one sees your liver, lungs, kidneys, or heart, but your face is always on display. Even if you're full of vigor, and vitality and never felt better in your life, the rest of the world considers you old if your face is lined, wrinkled, the skin is loose around the neck, baggy under the eyes, and full crows feet and brown spots.

The skin is the largest organ of the body - and it's an important one. Even though we tend to think of it as only a cover for the more important stuff inside, its structure is complex, and it does much more than prevent what's inside the body from spilling out. Skin senses and regulates body temperature; it retains heat when it's cold outside and eliminates it when the weather is hot; it alerts us to pain or pressure and is the mirror of many internal diseases, allergies, and other adverse reactions.

Changes in the appearance and character of your skin are inevitable as you grow older, but their severity depends on your genes, your lifestyle and your habits.

What happens to the skin as you grow old?

* The dermis, or internal layer of the skin just below the epidermis, contains glands, follicles, nerves, blood vessels, and elastin (the fibers in the dermis that make the skin resilient). As skin ages it loses some of its elastin. You know how you pinch a baby's skin and it promptly snaps back into place. However, when you pinch the skin of someone over sixty, it stretches and falls back much more slowly.

* Collagen, the protein that supports and gives skin its body, also decreases with age. As a result, your skin is eventually about 20 percent less thick that when you were younger.

* The blood supply to the skin decreases with age too; there are fewer blood vessels and their walls are thinner and more fragile. This leaves the skin less well nourished and more vulnerable to injury, infection and bruising.

* In young people injured skin is promptly replaced by new tissue. A sunburn is the best example of this renewal process. After the dead skin peels, new and healthy skin forms. However, in older people, the ability of the skin cells to reproduce is compromised, and they have a shorter life span. So as you get older, it takes longer for your skin to heal than when you were young.

* Sweat glands in the skin decreases in number with age, and its sebaceous glands make less oil, so that the skin is not as moist or as well lubricated. It then becomes dry and itchy, especially in cold weather.

What aging skin looks like?

* Aging skin is thin, dry, wrinkled, discolored, fragile inelastic.

* Tags may form in area where the skin is very loose and/or subjected to friction (the groin; the armpits; and under the breasts in females). …

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