Skin Ageing

Ageing of the skin is fundamentally caused by a gradual loss of elasticity, leading to wrinkles. This is largely due to progressive damage to the collagen and elastin in the dermis. The collagen also provides support for the tiny blood vessels in the skin, which can become broken and bleed more easily as the collagen is weakened, resulting in tiny bruises that cause a mottled discolouration of the skin.

The skin also becomes thinner, is more easily damaged, and is less able to repair itself, due to slower growth and rate of replacement of the cells of the epidermis. The skin also receives less blood flow and glandular activity is reduced, resulting in dryness.

The tissues below the skin also loose their fatty deposits and therefore provide less cushioning for the skin itself and allow underlying structures, such as the bones, to show through the skin more easily.

Much of the damage to the collagen and elastin in the skin is actually caused by sun exposure, especially to its UV components, rather than simply old age. This is why the exposed areas of the hands, face and neck appear to age faster than other areas of the body that are usually covered with clothing.

So called ‘age spots’ or ‘liver spots’, flat brown spots similar to but larger than freckles, are also primarily caused by sun exposure over many years; they have little to do with age and nothing to do with the liver. They are the result of cumulative UV damage to the melanocytes causing localised increased production of melanin.

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