We tend to think there’s nothing more sensitive than the soft skin of a new born baby. But you might be surprised to learn that the older we get, the more susceptible to damage our skin becomes.
Skin is comprised of three layers, each with a different role to play (learn more here) in skin integrity.
However, what each layer does have in common is that they all contain connective tissue with collagen fibres to provide firmness and support, and elastin fibres that provide flexibility and strength.
Ageing changes the connective tissue, resulting in a reduction in the skin’s strength and elasticity. This is called elastosis.1
After the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year, resulting in the skin becoming thinner and more fragile.1 Furthermore, the number of new skin cells we produce also decreases. For example, young people will ‘replace’ the cells of their skin every 28 days, but for older people this can take 40 days or more.
The blood vessels in the dermis also become more fragile and prone to damage, while the subcutaneous fat layer thins, so it provides less padding, also increasing the risks of damage.
Skin ageing is also associated with loss of skin moisture. While the mechanism isn’t fully understood, the levels of a molecule called hyaluronan or hyal-uronic acid (HA), that binds to and retains water molecules in the skin (and other places), decreases with age.2
What can we do about it?
Skin Scientists refer to two ageing processes – intrinsic (naturally occurring) and extrinsic (caused by external factors).2
While there’s not much we can do to stop the naturally occurring, intrinsic process, there are plenty of steps we can take to reduce the impact of external factors.
- On exposed areas, always use a sunscreen and/or protective clothing. The Sun and UV rays are the greatest cause of skin damage.
- In unexposed areas, excessive moisture, from sweating or bladder leakage pose the greatest threat. Water causes soft and soggy skin. (Ever stayed in a bath or swimming too long and ended up with soft and wrinkled skin?) This make the skin more prone to damage. The urea and ammonia in urine also affects the pH balance of the skin, and in conjunction with soggy skin, can cause burning and irritation.
Find out more about J’ADERMA’S range of skin care products that can help you cleanse, soothe and protect your skin here.
- Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid. A key molecule in skin ageing. Dermato-Endocrinology 4:3, 253–258; July–December 2012.