Age may only be a number, but your skin might be all too eager to give it away. As time goes on, environmental and internal forces cause your body to change. In other words, aging is inevitable. However, some people find a way to age more gracefully than others, subjectively speaking. Your skin’s appearance isn’t the only indicator of how well (or not) you’re aging, of course, but it’s often the most important for individuals. It’s not always easy to know what your skin should look or feel like for your particular age, though. With that in mind, here are some warning signs of premature aging -- the more aware of these signs you are, the more you can do to counteract the forces of time and gravity on your skin.
Lines and wrinkles are typically the first and most obvious signs of aging one can experience. And while the emergence of these features is normal, some might develop more (and deeper) wrinkles at an earlier age than others. Genetics always has something to do with wrinkle formation, but environmental forces also play a major part. Regular smokers, for instance, tend to develop wrinkles much earlier than non-smokers -- the same goes for people who spend a lot of time in the sun (especially without protection). If you wish to age well, you shouldn’t notice prominent lines or wrinkles until your mid-thirties or early forties. Taking steps to maintain your skin’s elasticity and hydration in your twenties will help achieve these outcomes.
Many people struggle with dry skin, especially during cold, dry periods such as winter. However, if your skin is consistently dry, even when environmental conditions don’t call for it, your skin may be prematurely aging. Aging skin has a harder time naturally exfoliating, causing dead skin cells to accumulate on the surface, which in turn diminishes the skin’s radiance and induces an itchy, flaky top layer. Moisturizing and exfoliating your skin regularly with the right products will help prevent these outcomes and provide more youthful skin.
Few people have a perfectly even skin tone. Freckles, moles, scars, and other common features can be expected and typically don’t indicate anything about your skin’s aging process. Larger brown spots and patches, however, along with other forms of discoloration, do tend to point to premature aging (or aging in general). These spots often derive from sun damaged skin, though vitamin deficiencies, stress, and genetics may be blameworthy as well. Whatever the root cause, these areas of hyperpigmentation can be treated via laser therapies, lightening creams, and other means.
Brown and red spots aren’t the only possible outcomes of sun damage. While the skin’s natural collagen and moisture reserves diminish over the years, excessive sun exposure can speed up these processes, sometimes resulting in dried up, “leathery” skin (typically around the chest). Once again, activities such as smoking also contribute to this form of premature aging.
As your body’s collagen production drops off, your lips can take a hit, too. Collagen, after all, is the primary protein that gives your skin (including your lips) its volume and structure, so a lack thereof will gradually result in thinner, drier lips. You can protect your lips by routinely applying lip balm containing sun protection. There are also ways to restore your lips’ volume -- dermal fillers for lips is one such option.
Bulging veins are another telltale sign of aging, whether they’re the veins on your hands or varicose veins protruding from your legs. Different factors contribute to these outcomes. For instance, regular sun exposure on your hands can damage the skin’s elastin and cause the skin to thin, which makes it more translucent and delicate (which is why veins are easier to see in this case). As for varicose veins, these broken blood vessels may result from excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise, sun exposure, and/or genetic factors. Regardless, various treatments, lifestyle changes, and surgeries can remove varicose veins and reduce the prominence of other veins underneath your skin.
Hair loss is common among men and women alike as they get older. Some individuals may begin losing their hair as early as their teen years (typically due to genetic factors or conditions such as alopecia). It may be difficult to prevent or reverse hair loss, depending on the situation. That said, FDA-approved treatments such as minoxidil and finasteride have been known to help slow down or even prevent hair loss. Additionally, taking good care of your hair, scalp, and overall health (i.e. diet, exercise, sleep) can help keep more hair on your head so you age as best as you can.
If you’re struggling with any (or multiple) of the aging signs mentioned above earlier than expected, the good news is that professional dermatologists can help in many ways. At Premier Dermatology Partners, our various cosmetic offerings are designed with each patient’s needs in mind. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.