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Causes for the Deterioration of the Skin

There are two types of skin aging. Intrinsic aging is based on genetic factors, and is often referred to as the natural aging process. It begins in the mid-twenties when the production of collagen, the substance that keeps the skin elastic, slows down. Skin cells are not shed as quickly and new skin cells are produced at a slower rate, resulting in a decline in skin rejuvenation. However, signs of aging will not be visible for a long time unless other factors hasten it.

Typical signs of normal skin deterioration are fine wrinkles, thinning of the skin, the loss of underlying fat that hollows the cheeks and eye sockets. Hand and neck skin is also noticeably less firm. Skin may also sag when bones shrink away (due to bone loss) and also itch as the skin begins to dry out. There may be unwanted hair and nail plates thin out, where the half moons disappear and ridges come out.

Normally, aging becomes apparent in the late 40s, although genetic disorders such as people suffering from Werner’s syndrome may accelerate the process. Aside from genes, external factors may accelerate the deterioration of the skin, referred to as extrinsic aging.

Much of premature aging is attributed to prolonged sun exposure, referred to as “photo aging” and may include freckles, spider veins, age spots, rough or leathery skin texture, fine wrinkles, blotchy complexion and actinic keratoses, those wart-like reddish patches of skin. Skin cancer may also result from overexposure to the sun. The overall effect of photo aging will depend on the skin color and history of sun exposure. Darker skin is less prone to show severe aging signs than fairer skin. The active component that contributes to the deteriorating effect of the sun is ultraviolet (UV) exposure, which breaks down collagen. However, the process takes years to come to the surface. Those who live in sunny areas such as Arizona are more at risk for photo aging and would be advised to take precautions such as protective headgear and sunblock.

Repetitive facial movements are identified as a culprit for developing fine lines and losing skin elasticity. Gravity promotes decline in skin rejuvenation as well as loosing its elasticity, pulling the nose and eyelids down as well as jowls to form. Sleeping position, believe it or not, will also lead to wrinkles if the same position is assumed every night. These are called sleep lines, which in most cases disappear but habitual sleep lines will eventually be etched permanently on the skin. Sleeping on one’s back is the best position to prevent sleep lines.

Smoking and alcohol consumption are found to have biochemical effects that accelerate aging. Smokers are more likely to develop deep wrinkles and leathery skin than non-smokers. A yellowish tinge to the skin is also common among long-time smokers. Smoking is considered the next highest factor for wrinkling next to UV exposure. Alcohol has been found to leave toxins in the body if taken in excessive amounts that weaken capillary walls and lead to blotchy skin. It also dehydrates the skin so it leaves the skin dull and lifeless. Take note that these activities and vices add some causes for the deterioration of your skin. Still, a healthy, clean lifestyle in the shade will ensure that the signs of aging will not present itself prematurely on the skin.

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