Why does skin aging occur?

Published on April 28, 2022 By Gentle Touch | Last updated on May 02, 2022

Old woman looking at a mirror

During aging, several physiological factors influence this process. The modification of these factors can make it a pathological or accelerated process. Our skin constantly changes, and we have to remember that it is an organ with particular characteristics.  


Knowing the characteristics of cutaneous aging allows us to understand the changes. If we identify these characteristics, we can anticipate the clinical pictures caused by them and design preventive strategies that enable us to age healthily.  


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What does skin aging? 


The aging process can be defined as the process of decreasing maximum function and reserve capacity in all organs of the body, leading to disease and death. This process occurs at the cellular level, and for some, it is a cancer prevention mechanism, as it prevents the immortality of dysfunctional or genetically altered cells. This theory could explain the increase in cancer incidence of cancer cases as life expectancy increases. 


Aging is a multifactorial process involving intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors refer to the organism's functions, and extrinsic factors refer to exogenous factors that amplify the effect of the former. 


To explain all these factors, we can mention that they are divided into biological, environmental, mechanical, and miscellaneous. However, there are other elements involved in the aging process.  


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Some symptoms of skin aging 


  • Appearance of spots 

  • Fine lines and wrinkles 

  • Some dryness to the touch, and we may notice it becomes thinner as it loses fat. 


But while it is true that this cause of skin aging "from within" is natural and cannot be altered, age is not the only reason that explains the phenomenon. There are several external factors capable of causing the skin to age prematurely and on which we can act. 


Causes of Skin Aging 


  • Sun exposure 


It is the main external aging factor (in many cases, it causes more signs of aging than the passage of time itself). The damage generated by prolonged exposure to UV rays is mainly responsible for the appearance of blemishes. This result is most evident on the face, shoulders, and back of the hands, which are the parts of the body most exposed to the sun. 


  • Oxidative stress 


Releases molecules known as free radicals, which damage the cellular structures of the skin and, consequently, deteriorate it. While the skin is young, its antioxidants neutralize the action of free radicals. But, as time goes by, this ability to deactivate them diminishes considerably. 


  • Diet 


A healthy and balanced diet is essential for our skin to look healthy and young. Still, it must also be a diet rich in antioxidants, molecules capable of nullifying the action of free radicals. Some examples to keep in mind are the following: 

  • Peppers (rich in vitamins C and B6 and carotenes). 

  • Oily fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids). 

  • Nuts (which provide vitamin E). 

  • Chocolate (powerful antioxidant). 


We invite you to read our article Best foods to improve the appearance of skin. 


  • Smoking and alcohol consumption 


These are two habits that are detrimental to youthful skin. Alcoholic beverages dehydrate the skin, leaving it much more exposed to external aggressions, and tobacco decreases the blood supply to the skin cells, favoring premature aging. An essential fact is that wrinkles increase with the number of cigarettes and the number of years a person smokes. 


  • Environmental pollution 


Skin exposed to environmental pollution, so common in large cities, ages faster than skin living in natural environments because free radicals attack it. 


  • Poor care 


Skin that is not adequately cared for ages faster. Therefore, a conscious routine (cleansing, care, and sun protection) is essential to prevent the appearance of signs that reveal premature aging. And this process should always be done with the skin type and its specific needs in mind. 


We invite you to read our article Tips for facial care after the 30s. 


Epidermal changes in aging skin 


During the aging process, the skin undergoes significant structural changes. Even in photo-protected areas, there is a generalized thinning of the epidermis by 10-50% between 30 and 80 years. The essential epidermal alterations are in the stratum basale or germinative layer (mainly affecting stem cells) and the dermo-epidermal junction, which undergoes progressive flattening. This latter change reduces the contact surface between the epidermis and the dermis, increasing skin fragility and facilitating blister formation with trauma. 


Melanocytes, which are the cells that give pigment to the skin, decrease by 8-20% per decade after 30 and develop morphological and functional heterogeneity. With sun exposure, foci of activated melanocytes form, along with areas of lower cell density, with inactivated cells.  


Langerhans cells, which are the most important constituents of the immune system in the skin, decrease with aging and suffer a loss of efficacy in their function, with a reduced ability to uptake antigens and form dendrites to present them. It is believed that this may explain the decreased immunological capacity of mature skin. 


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Dermal changes in aging skin 


The dermis contains the skin's supporting, innervating, and vascularizing components. In healthy young skin, its main component is collagen. With age and sun exposure, the typical collagen fibrils are replaced by an amorphous, homogeneous, functionless material reminiscent of elastin. This phenomenon is known as solar elastosis, which is more abundant in photo exposed areas, such as the face. Between the elastic fibers, there is a deposit of proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans. 


There are other secondary changes in the aging dermis, such as dilation of vessels, increased number, and activity of fibroblasts, and the presence of a variable inflammatory infiltrate. The skin's surface has many predictable changes with age: young people have a regular fine pattern of wrinkles and narrow lines, while older people have progressively deepened and thickened wrinkles. 


Prevention and treatment 


Dermal and epidermal damage of aging skin can be prevented by good photoprotection. But it can also be treated by chemical methods, laser application, botulinum toxin, micro abrasion techniques, etc.  


Skin aging is a continuous process in which morphological and functional changes progressively occur in the skin. There is a decline in biological functions and the ability to adapt to metabolic stress. The passage of time is related to the part of these changes, although exposure to solar radiation plays a leading role in epithelial aging.  


It isn't easy to separate the aspects that are solely age-dependent from those resulting from sun exposure, so skin with a high actinic load is usually considered aged skin. Indeed, the skin in the most photo-exposed areas shows the most intense features of aging, such as pigmentation alterations and wrinkles. 


At Gentle Touch, we help you with the aging of your skin. Depending on the need, we can apply different techniques for your skincare. If you have questions about our facial treatment services, do not hesitate to contact the Gentle Touch Team to get a Free Consultation. Please call (860) 216-6225 to schedule your appointment or email info@GentleTouchCT.com.     





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