Skin

Introduction

  • The skin changes in many ways as people age.
  • On the positive side, the skin tends to become less sensitive to substances, so allergic rashes become less common.
  • On the negative side, the skin thins and becomes drier, less elastic, and more fragile.
  • Thus, as people age, skin disorders become more common and bothersome.

Sign & Symptoms

  • As people age, the skin tends to become thinner, less elastic and finely wrinkled. However, exposure to sunlight over the years contributes to wrinkling and to making the skin rough and blotchy.
  • Skin is also drier and less greasy due to reduction in sebaceous excretion.
  • The skin is torn more easily, wrinkles are more likely to develop, and tolerance for cold decreases due to the layer of fat under the skin becomes thinner and is replaced by more fibrous tissue.
  • The number of nerve endings in the skin decreases. As a result, sensation, including sensitivity to pain, may be reduced, and injuries may be more likely.
  • The number of sweat glands and blood vessels also decreases, and blood flow in the deep layers of the skin decreases. When blood flow decreases, less heat leaves the body, and the body cannot cool itself as well. Thus, older people are more likely to develop disorders due to overheating, such as heatstroke.
  • Also, the skin tends to heal more slowly when blood flow is decreased.
  • The number of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) decreases. Thus, the skin has less protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such as that from sunlight.

Prevention

  • But most unwanted changes in the skin’s appearance are due to chronic sun damage, not to aging itself. Avoiding excessive sun exposure can prevent some of these changes or prevent them from worseningn.
]Last Review : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Ho Bee Kiau
Reviewed : Dr. Radziah bt. Abdul Rashid