How does our skin change as we age? (Vinh Chung, M.D.)

How does our skin change as we age? (Vinh Chung, M.D.)

The natural aging process normally begins in our mid-20s. As the skin ages, we observe several key changes.

First, the outer layer of skin loses lipids or fat molecules. Sweat and oil glands also decrease in number, making it more difficult to retain moisture. Thus, the skin becomes drier, itchier, and flakier. We advise that older patients use gentle soaps (e.g., fragrance free Dove or Cetaphil) and rich moisturizers (e.g., Cetaphil cream, Aveeno, Neutrogena).

The second effect is from the loss of collagen. Without collagen, the skin begins to sag and even wounds take longer to heal. Overall, the skin becomes more susceptible to infections and rashes.

Older skin has undergone years of cumulative UV (sun) exposure, which further damages the skin. For anyone who has a changing mole, a spot that won’t heal, or a growth, that individual needs to see a dermatologist. Most skin cancers are curable if caught early. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical, so at Vanguard, we’ll see anyone with a concerning spot within 10 days.

Regardless of the season, the daily basics for taking care of older skin include a gentle cleanser, sunscreen, and a moisturizer. Also exfoliate weekly to remove dead skin cells, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles and encouraging skin turn over.