Ageing Skin – What Changes
By the third decade of life, the skin has begun to change. The barrier function is increasingly weakened. The metabolic processes of the cells slow down, and the skin increasingly loses moisture and becomes less elastic.
Age is not the determining factor in the condition of mature skin: Environmental factors that influence the ageing of skin play a central role. Tone, elasticity and epidermal regeneration capacity do not decline until advanced age in areas not exposed to light, whereas they do so prematurely in areas exposed to light.
Skin ageing is influenced by:
A endogenous factors as well as by
B exogenous factors.
Endogenous and exogenous skin ageing
The appearance and function of mature skin is influenced by various factors. The normal biological involution process is endogenous and not controlled by external factors.
Parts of this process are:
- Diminishing cell regeneration capacity
- Lower sebaceous and sweat gland activity
- Reduced oestrogen production.
The exogenous factors that lead to premature ageing of the skin (also called photo-ageing) include mainly:
- UV exposure with the formation of free radicals
- Use of social drugs (tobacco, alcohol)
- Influences of climate and weather
Reduced sebaceous and sweat gland activity
Decreasing activity of the sebaceous and sweat glands with age leads to a lack of substances important for the structure of the hydrolipid film and the protective acid mantle. The result is dry, lipid-deficient cracked skin. It reacts much more sensitively to soap and alkaline solutions like those found in various cleaning agents. Use of such products removes more epidermal lipids from the skin. Consequently, the skin dries out more due to increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Its surface becomes rough, with tiny cracks appearing in the horny layer. The skin becomes taut and may itch.
Appearance and histological changes
The appearance of "mature skin" is characterised by the following changes in the three skin layers, the subcutis (subcutaneous fatty tissue), dermis (corium) and epidermis (upper layer). As the skin ages, the subcutaneous fatty tissue gradually disappears, the dermis becomes thinner, and the connective tissue loses its fibrous structure and water binding capacity. The elastic fibres degenerate and wrinkling occurs. In the epidermis, the ordered arrangement of the individual layers is lost. Fewer epidermis cells are formed and the cells shrink. The epidermis becomes thinner.
As the skin ages, it becomes thinner. The connective tissue loses its normal fibrous structure and water binding capacity.
- Horny skin layer
- Dermal papillae