As we age, we expect our skin to change. Diminished tone, texture and elasticity are all part of normal signs of aging skin. But there are things that are not necessarily ‘normal’ functions of aging skin. According to the National Institutes of Health, here are some things to look for that might be abnormal changes in aging skin:
Premature Aging from UV Light: By far, the most significant factor contributing to skin aging is exposure to UVA and UVB rays – also called photo-aging. In fact, most physicians believe that UV light accounts for 90% of all premature aging, skin cancer and a host of other skin conditions. Premature aging of the skin is not normal and so it is considered the primary sign of abnormal aging.
Hyperpigmentation: This is the appearance of darkened spots on the surface of the skin which are the result of an increase in the number, size and color of pigmented spots on the skin. The primary cause of hyperpigmentation is overexposure to sunlight. For more information on hyperpigmentation and how to treat it, read our article on Types of Hyperpigmentation.
Skin Lesions: When we age, the number and functionality of the Langerhans cells (cells that regulate the proper function of the skin) is reduced. This can result in the skin’s inability to reject disorders in the skin which often means the appearance of skin lesions as we age. Some skin lesions are benign and some are not and it’s important to recognize the difference. After all, skin cancer is still the deadliest form of cancer, claiming the most lives every year – and skin cancer often starts out as an innocent looking lesion. For more information on how to recognize a harmful vs. a harmless lesion, learn the A, B, C, D and E’s of skin lesions and read our article on Common Skin Growths .
Vascular Damage: As we age the walls of our blood vessels weaken and become susceptible to damage. That, combined with the thinning of the skin, results in skin that bruises easily and a condition called talengectasia – a fancy name for tiny broken blood vessels that appear near the surface for the skin and look like spider veins. These tiny veins can appear red, blue or purple and tend to form in clusters. Vascular damage can also result in Cherry Angiomas – small red, raised bumps that are caused by dilated blood vessels. These often appear on the body, but also around the edges of the face near the hairline.
Increased Facial Hair: As we age and our hormones change – causing a whole host of problems – including an increase in facial hair. We’ve all joked about Aunt Mabel’s mustache or chin hairs, well it’s not her fault and there is not much to be done to avoid it. All you can do is remove it, bleach it, and find ways to keep the peach fuzz down to a minimum.
It is estimated that more than 90% of aging adults have some type of skin disorder. That’s due to in large part to sun damage inflicted years ago, but it’s also due to diminished cellular and vascular function as discussed above.
Aging skin can also be more sensitive than it used to be and more susceptible to allergies. Other factors that affect aging skin are poor nutrition, insufficient hydration, side effects of medications, and continued exposure to environmental factors.
So just when you thought the dreaded teenage years with all their skin problems were just a bad memory, aging skin has its own set of issues and concerns that should be addressed on a daily basis.