Types of skin conditions
What happens to your skin as you get older? As the body ages, the appearance and characteristics of the skin change. Visible aging of the skin starts at about age 25 as the natural regenerative process begin to slow. The skin replaces old cells more slowly and there is a slower turnover of the surface skin and slower wound healing. After age 45, a thinning of the skin begins, due in part, to hormonal changes. This thinning makes the skin more fragile and vulnerable to damage by abrasion and more sensitive to irritating environmental factors and allergens. The coils of collagen and elastin suffer cuts and crosslinking damage and as a result, the skin losses much of it’s strength and elasticity.
The moisture holding proteoglycans and GAGs decrease in abundance, making the skin become dryer and looser. The skin loses fat, so it looks less plump and smooth. The number of blood vessels in your skin decreases, and the skin loses its youthful colour and glow.
While all these changes are taking place, gravity is also at work, pulling at the skin, causing it to sag. Wrinkles around the eyes are a characteristic signs of skin damage. The skin tends to heal more slowly and minor blemishes develop. In addition, this aging process can be exacerbated by factors such as extremes of cold or heat, excessive sun (UV radiation), psychological stress, and improper nutrition. The effects of photodamage can be seen by comparing skin in areas exposed to sun to areas usually covered. Exposed skin has mottled hyperpigmentation while the nonexposed skin is usually clearer and paler.
During aging the oil-producing (sebaceous) glands become less active, and your skin becomes drier. The skin becomes more sensitive to the use of harsh soaps and disinfectants which more easily damage skin. We have a natural oil covering our skin named sebum, which is produced by glands in the skin. When the oil is removed by frequent use of drying agents, such as soap, the skin becomes dry which can lead to cracking and flaking. Once cracking occurs the skin is susceptible to inflammation and itching. Everyday factors that may cause drying of the skin include harsh soaps, long hot baths or showers. In our modern culture, most people overdo skin cleansing.
In addition to the general loosening or “sagging” of skin as we age, skin growths and lesions become more common. They may range from harmless “seborrheic warts”, “liver spots” or “age spots” to skin cancers that require immediate treatment.
Age spots are also called liver spots, lentigo simplex and senile lentigines. They are flat, grey, brown or black spots that occur on more than 90% fair-skinned people after age 50. Age spots range from freckle-size to a few inches in diameter. They are most common on skin areas most exposed to the sun. True age spots don’t become cancerous and require no treatment, but sometimes they look like cancerous growths. They can be lightened with skin-bleaching products or removed. Hydroxy acids and strong copper peptides often slowly remove these lesions.
Actinic keratosis are grey-to-pink-to-red, scaly spots called actinic keratoses. These usually occur on your face, scalp and the backs of hands. They start as flat lesions that feel like sandpaper, but later may develop a hard, wart-like surface. Between 1% to 3% can progress to skin cancers within 10 to 20 years if ignored, and may need to be removed surgically. In the early stages they can be removed by applying a chemotherapy cream or freezing with liquid nitrogen. Hydroxy acids and strong copper peptides often slowly remove these lesions.
These should not be confused with skin melanomas which do not appear to be associated with sunlight exposure.
These yellow to brown to black raised waxy-looking spots or wart-like growths look like they were stuck on the skin surface. Normally, seborrheic keratoses don’t become cancerous, however they can resemble skin cancer and should be checked by a physician. Sometimes they may bleed if irritated by rubbing. They are more common in fair-skinned people past age 40. They are not cancerous and commonly occur with aging. They can be easily removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery), scraping (curettage) or burning with an electric current (electrosurgery). Hydroxy acids and strong copper peptides often slowly remove these lesions.
These are harmless, small, bright red domes created by dilated blood vessels. They occur in more than 85 percent of people by middle-age, usually on the trunk. Electrosurgery or laser therapy removes these spots.
These dilated facial blood vessels are usually related to sun damage. They respond to the same treatments as angiomes.
Skin tags are small, soft, skin-coloured growths that often protrude above the skin and are usually found on your armpit, neck, or groin. They are usually harmless, but can be removed by cutting, cryosurgery or electrosurgery. Hydroxy acids and strong copper peptides often slowly remove these lesions.
Shingles is an inflammation of a nerve caused by the same virus as chicken pox. Early symptoms are localized pain, headache or fatigue. Shingles can affect people of all ages, but is more common and painful in older adults.
These are enlarged leg veins that appear blue and bulging. They are common in older individuals. The veins become twisted and swollen when blood returning to the heart against gravity flows back into the veins through a faulty valve. This condition is rarely dangerous.
Laser therapy may remove smaller varicosities. More severe cases can be treated with surgery or injections.
Eczema is used to describe all kinds of superficial skin inflammation characterized by redness, blistering, oozing, oedema, scaling, crusting, brownish-lesions, thickened skin, and itching skin conditions. Examples of eczema include dermatitis, allergic contact eczema, seborrheic eczema, and nummular eczema.
These condition may cause skin disfigurement, rashes, and uneven pigmentation.
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