As we grow older, we see and feel certain changes in our skin, which is the body’s largest and most visible organ. Mature skin becomes drier, more wrinkled, develops more blemishes and growths, and heals more slowly. Some of these skin changes are natural, unavoidable, and harmless. Others are itchy or painful, and some changes, such as skin cancers, are serious and require medical attention. Many of these skin problems can be prevented. Whether a danger to health or merely cosmetically unattractive, most of these skin problems can be addressed by therapies now available.
As skin ages, collagen and elastin fibers weaken, making the skin looser, thinner, and saggier. How wrinkled your skin becomes depends largely on how much sun you have been exposed to in your lifetime. Cigarette smoking can also contribute to wrinkles, as can genetic factors. Beginning in childhood, to avoid wrinkles caused by the sun, the following should be followed:
- Always wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30
- Wear a hat with a brim and other protective clothing
- Don’t deliberately sunbathe
- Try to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Remember that sun exposure as a child or teenager makes a big difference to the appearance of the skin at the age of 30, 40, or 50. If you have already sun-damaged your skin, you will still benefit from beginning sun protection as an adult. It’s never too late to protect your Mature Skin.
Skin growths and pigment spots become more common as we age. They may range from harmless “warts,” “liver spots,” or “age spots,” to skin cancers that require treatment. Most are caused by years of sun exposure. Among the most common are red or brown scaly spots called actinic keratoses. If ignored, they may become skin cancers that eventually need to be removed surgically. In the early stages they can be removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen, applying a chemotherapy cream, or by skin resurfacing.
Several other skin growths are very common in older individuals with Mature Skin. These include lentigines, or flat brown areas sometimes referred to as “age spots” or “liver spots;” seborrheic keratoses, or brown to black raised warty growths; and cherry angiomas, or bright red raised bumps created by dilated blood vessels.
Treatments for the Aging Skin
Treatments for all of the above range from retinoic acid and alpha hydroxy acid creams, to procedures that can be done in the dermatology office. Creases caused by facial expressions such as squinting, frowning, or smiling can be treated with injectable soft tissue fillers such as Juvederm™ or Radiesse™, or by an injectable muscle relaxer called Botox™. Broken blood vessels accompany these wrinkles and can be treated with lasers or cautery. None of these remedies can guarantee the appearance of youthful skin, but they can improve the overall appearance of your skin. Wrinkled Mature Skin may be improved by resurfacing with lasers or chemical peels.