How Does Skin Change as We Age?  | Biodermis

How Does Skin Change as We Age? |

Throughout our lives our skin goes through many changes. Childhood is likely the best time for many of us during which our skin is smooth, vibrant, and free from blemishes. As we transition into adolescence and young adulthood, we begin to notice unwanted changes that typically come with the onset of puberty. And once we reach middle age and beyond, many people start to experience sagging skin, wrinkles and dark spots. The changes we see in our skin are often due to diet, genetics, and environmental factors. Some of these changes may be preventable while others are unavoidable.

In this article we will be going over the different skin changes that many of us experience during our lifetimes and the underlying cause of these changes.

Our skin during childhood
For most people, the golden years of skin health transpire during our youth, before adolescence and puberty. However, this isn’t to say that infants and young children are safe from skin problems altogether. Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is an itchy, red rash on the surface of the skin that is caused by inflammation. Eczema is very common (more than 3 million US cases a year) and often develops in early childhood. Eczema rashes normally affect the arms or the areas behind the knees and are otherwise harmless. However, this condition can cause irritation, dry skin and itchiness. One way to ease the symptoms of eczema is to avoid certain soaps and other harmful irritants in the environment that can dry out the skin.

Another common skin condition that affects young children is warts. Warts are hard bumps that develop on the fingers, hands, and feet caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus is contracted through direct contact with other people and can also spread in moist environments like showers or locker rooms. Warts aren’t harmful and will generally go away on their own in a few years. There are no antiviral medications that will get rid of warts, but certain creams and ointments that contain salicylic acid are often prescribed by dermatologists as a treatment. Another common method to remove warts is to freeze them with liquid nitrogen, a procedure that should be performed by a dermatologist or licensed professional.

Our skin during adolescence
During our adolescent and teenage years, many of us experience a variety of new changes in our skin. Some of the more common transformations that we see include increased sebum (oil) production on the surface of the skin, facial hair growth in boys, and acne. The main cause of these adolescent symptoms is due to genetics and the influx of new hormones in our bodies during puberty. The reason many teens develop acne is because of the increase of oil production in the skin. This oil can clog our pores and breed bacteria, leading to acne breakouts and blackheads.

One of the best and most natural ways to combat acne is to shower regularly. The areas that are most prone to acne breakouts are the face, shoulders, back, and chest, so it’s imperative to keep these areas clean and dry. However, keeping good hygiene and clean skin isn’t always enough to stay clear of acne during our teens. And because it’s such a common and persistent problem, millions of dollars are spent every year on advertisements for creams and products designed to fight acne. With severe cases of acne, also known as cystic acne, a visit to the dermatologist will expose you to stronger ointments and medications that contain salicylic acid. It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor to find out the best treatments available.

Our skin during middle and old age
Once we reach middle and old age, our skin will go through even more transformations with the onset of wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. While these side effects of old age are unwanted and undesirable, they are natural and happen to everyone. Wrinkles are the product of wear and tear on our skin. Our skin is made up of structural protein fibers called collagen and elastin. Over time, these proteins lose their integrity and become weaker, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Dark spots, on the other hand, are not caused by a loss of structural integrity but by exposure from the Sun. The process by which dark spots form is called hyperpigmentation, which changes the physical pigmentation of the skin. For the most part, dark spots on the skin are harmless, but once in a while they can become cancerous so it’s a good idea to have them checked by a dermatologist.

It's important to know that the changes in our skin that we experience as we get older is a natural process that happens to everyone. Some people try to preserve their youthful look by having cosmetic procedures done, but eventually even these measures will no longer be effective. We should embrace the effects of aging rather than deny them and learn to love the uniqueness of our skin.

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