As you age, your skin undergoes progressive changes:
- The cells divide more slowly, and the inner layer of skin starts to thin. The thinning skin becomes vulnerable to injuries and damage.
- The deeper layer of the skin, which provides scaffolding for the surface skin layers, loosens and unravels. Older skin sags and forms furrows.
- The oil-secreting glands shrink, leaving the skin without a protective layer of fat. The skin's ability to stay moisturized then decreases, and it becomes dry and scaly.
- Sunlight is the most important cause of prematurely aging skin (a process called photoaging) and skin cancers.
- Overall, exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight accounts for about 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging.
- Most of the damage is initiated by age 20.
- Chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser therapy, wrinkle fillers, and Botox injections can be used alone or in combination, depending on the extent of photodamage and skin wrinkles. A qualified physician can categorize patients to determine treatment option(s).
- Antioxidant ointments, creams, and lotions may help reduce the risk of wrinkles and protect against sun damage. Unlike sunscreens, they build up in the skin and are not washed away, so the protection may last longer.
- The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate herbal remedies and dietary supplements. However, any substance that affects the body's chemistry can, like any drug, produce side effects that may be harmful. There have been numerous reported cases of serious and even deadly side effects from herbal products.
Review Date: 10/15/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, In-Depth Reports; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.