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What causes age-related skin damage?

Celeste Robb-Nicholson
Internal Medicine
As the years go by, skin undergoes a number of biochemical changes. Epidermal cells don't slough off as easily, and the supportive fibers of collagen and elastin break down. Skin doesn't retain as much moisture as it once did. Exposure to the sun and tobacco smoke can accelerate these aging processes. However, a certain amount of skin damage can be arrested, and even reversed.

If, like many women, you are finding that the face in the mirror doesn't match the image in your head, skin aging is likely to be responsible. However, the single biggest cause of damage to skin over time is not aging, but sun exposure. Over the years, sun exposure causes fine and coarse wrinkles; baggy skin with a yellow, leathery appearance; and dry, scaly skin. It also increases the risk for skin cancer. Because sun exposure diminishes collagen, which supports a network of blood vessels, photoaging can also cause skin to bruise more easily.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.