As we age, our skin may become thinner, drier and more fragile. It begins to sag, wrinkles and ageing lines appear and possibly some age spots. There are many reasons for this, some intrinsic to the workings of our body and some due to external factors.
Intrinsic reasons for skin Ageing
As we get older, we produce fewer new cells and there is less fibroblast activity - these are the most common connective tissue cells. Reduced fibroblast activity means less collagen and elastin in the skin, generally meaning less elasticity. Decreasing hyaluronic acid levels also affect elasticity and the skin's ability to repair. Additionally, the dermis naturally becomes thinner as we age and the volume of subcutaneous tissue decreases. All of this happens as a matter of course in our body as we age, but what about factors outside of our body?
Extrinsic factors in skin Ageing
Different facets of social behaviour and activity can accelerate the skin ageing process. A regular sleeping position or habitual facial expressions can affect our skin. As nothing will defy gravity forever, our skin will begin to sag. The primary external ageing factor is sun exposure, which results in what is known as photo-damaged skin. This is characterised by increased dryness and fragility, loss of elasticity, deep wrinkling and irregular pigmentation. Excessive alcohol use or smoking can also damage the skin. In smokers, the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin narrow and the reduced blood flow depletes the supply to the skin of the oxygen and nutrients essential to its health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin, while the repetitive facial expressions of smokers can turn to wrinkles.