Over the past several decades, a significant amount of progress has been made in the area of health and wellness. As a result of knowing what might cause conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia, adults are living longer these days. This is all well and good, we think, until we hear the concerns that start to sprout up around mid-life.
Aging is not a disease; it is the natural progression of living. There is no way to escape it, and one of the first places age makes itself known is on the skin. We know that, like many of the other health concerns that arise as we get older, dermatologic aging is affected by external factors to some degree. We will touch on this in Part II of this topic. Today, our focus will be on the genetics tied to aging, and why they cannot be avoided.
Some important details about aging . . .
- You don’t get into your 20’s without beginning to “age” in the way we refer to it today. The signs of this early aging do not become obvious for another few decades (if you’re lucky).
- Skin becomes scaly in appearance when dead skin cells stop sloughing off in the appropriate time frame.
- Wrinkles begin to develop as the skin loses elastin, which gives elasticity to connective tissue.
- Skin becomes thin and papery when collagen stores become depleted. Collagen gives skin its firmness and structure. Without healthy strands running beneath the skin, we start to notice ridges at the edges of the lips and thinned skin on the arms and hands.
- The lipids that form a barrier on the skin decrease, which makes skin more dry and itchy with age.
- The fat loss at a rate of about 1 tsp a year eventually leads to bony hands, flat or sunken cheeks, and hollows beneath the eyes.
- Hair turns gray or thins. In some, pattern baldness occurs.
- Fingernails break more easily as we age. Toenails, on the other hand (or foot!), become thicker.
Ah, if only we had control over our genetic makeup! Aging would be so much easier to a transition through life! While the intrinsic causes of aging are beyond your ability to manage, that does not mean you have no options for protecting and promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails. In our next post, we will discuss the extrinsic factors related to aging skin, and what you can do about them.