Skin Aging Causes and Facts
SKIN AGING CAUSES
Skin aging causes are part of an unavoidable natural process and as we continue to age, the signs appear very noticeably. Aged skin has a characteristically dry, wrinkled, leathered and rough look.
Age degrades the skin making it thinner and more susceptible to wear and tear. As we age the skin also loses its inherent ability to heal itself quickly. Blemishes begin to appear more pronounced. It is however important to distinguish between natural aging and aging brought about by external factors known as premature aging.
Natural skin aging is a result of many natural processes. As we age, cell replication and replacement become slower.
The skin thus cannot replace damaged and dead cells quickly enough to prevent visible skin aging damage. Important skin maintenance growth factors are produced in ever decreasing amounts as we age. Vascular damage also means less oxygen and nutrients are able to reach the skin in enough quantities to keep it in a healthy state.
The skin covers all parts of the body, protecting internal body organs from harm brought about by infection from viruses, fungi and bacteria as well as keeping out external objects that don’t belong anywhere inside the body.
The skin is also responsible for production of Vitamin D, sensory perception, heat regulation and aesthetics. Its large surface area makes it the biggest organ on the body. The skin is thicker in some areas (like the soles of your feet) and thinner in others; women also tend to have thinner skin than men do.
The skin has two major layers, namely:
This tough layer of cells is the outermost layer of skin. It gets its toughness from a protein called keratin. Keratin is extremely insoluble in water and organic solvents; it helps in giving skin a durable, water resistant finish. It is also the protein that forms hair.
The epidermis has five layers:
• Stratum corneum is made up of dead, mature skin cells called keratinocytes. These cells are constantly shed and replaced by cells from the lower layers of the epidermis. These cells have lost most of their internal structures and organelles.
• Stratum lucidum is found in thicker skin and helps reduce friction between the stratum corneum and the stratum granulosum. It’s composed of dead, flattened cells.
• Stratum granulosum is where keratin is formed. The cells in this layer also produce materials that prevent evaporation, which helps waterproof the skin.
• Stratum spinosum contains the keratin-producing cells that were formed in the stratum basale. Keratin is a major structural component of the outer layers of skin.
• Stratum basale forms the deepest layer. The cells of this layer continuously divide and form new keratinocytes to replace the ones that are constantly shed. This layer also contains melanocytes, which are the cells that produce skin coloring.
This lower layer of the skin contains collagen and elastic fibers that give strength to the skin. This layer is also where the vasculature and nerves live. This makes it the part of the skin most responsible for sensory perception.
Together the epidermis and the dermis form the cutaneous layer. The sub-cutaneous layer lays beneath this and is sometimes called the hypodermis. This is the part that holds the body’s fat hence its thickness varies between individuals.
The integument is another part of the skin that holds all the structures that grow out of the skin and glands. These are:
• Hair: The protein keratin forms hair. Hair has an inner layer (the cortex), which contains pigments that give it color, and an outer layer (the cuticle). It grows out of follicles, which are little pockets of epidermis in the dermis. The shape of the follicle determines whether hair is curly or straight. Each follicle contains a hair bulb from which the hair develops. Erector pili muscles connect the hair follicle to the skin. These tiny muscles are responsible for stiffening or relaxing hair. They are the main culprits in the formation of goose bumps.
• Nails: Keratin shows up again in the form of plates found on ends of the fingers and toes. Underneath each nail is a nail bed with a root at the end closest to the body. Just like in the skin keratin is constantly produced in the nail and that’s why nails never seem to stop growing.
• Sebaceous glands: These glands are connected to the hair follicles. They produce sebum, which is an oily substance that helps keeps the hair flexible.
• Sweat glands: Sweat glands are coiled tubular glands found in most of the skin. The secretory portion of each gland lies in the fascia with a duct that runs up to the surface of the skin.
Premature skin aging has become a prevalent problem because of the increase of factors that contribute to it. Some of these factors include being careful of: the sun, the cold, weight and alcohol.
Other factors include:
• Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages by causing one to have wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion. Smokers also have high amounts of oxidative agents in their bodies, leading to a quicker cell death rate in all organs including the skin.
• Unsuitable skin care products: Many people have caused their skin damage by using skin care products that are either unsuitable for their skin types or wholly unfit for use. It is important to not only use healthy products but to also consult professionals for advice on which skin care products are suitable for you.
• Diet: The adage of you are what you eat cannot apply any better than on skin. Greasy food causes pimples and acne. Diets with not enough fluid content or too much salt deprive the skin of moisture leaving it dry and ashy. Always ensure you have a good balanced diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and water to maintain healthy looking skin.
• Stress: The release of stress hormones inhibits production of cytokines which are proteins that are important for cell regeneration.
• Pollution: In the modern industrialized world, it is almost impossible to avoid pollution. Whether it be from the fossil fuels burnt to power our engines or the industrial wastes dumped into waterways. Pollutant agents always find a way onto your skin. The harmful chemicals in these substances damage and degrade the skin to the point where it cannot repair itself fast enough.
Anti–Aging Skin Therapies
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