Overview & Description
Skin changes in many ways as a person ages. Its ability to stretch, and itscoloration, dryness, and ability to protect the body are all affected by theaging process.
What is the information for this topic?
The skin is considered the largest organ of the body. It is one of the mostnoticeable places in which aging changes occur. Wrinkles, sagging skin, and dry skin are all indicators of theaging process. To many individuals, these can be unpleasant changes.
The skin is the body’s protective coating. It protects against the environmentand helps to regulate body temperature. It also helps maintain the body’s fluidand salt balance. Nerve fibers in the skin provide information about a person’ssurroundings. These nerves detect touch, pain, pressure, and temperature.
The skin tends to get thinner with age. This causes older people to have pale,translucent skin. The number of pigment, or color-containing, cells decreases.The color-containing cells that are left tend to get bigger and group together.This is the cause of agespots that commonly appear on elderly skin. These are also calledliver spots. These pigmented areas tend to be more common on skin that has beenexposed to the sun.
The number of sweat glands in the skin is decreased with age. This causes theelderly to sweat less. This lack of sweating makes the ability to regulate bodytemperature more difficult in hot weather. Because of this, elderly people aremore likely to develop heatemergencies, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. At the same time, there is less blood flow to theskin. This makes the skin of the elderly cooler to the touch. The decreasednumber of sweat glands and oil glands in the skin also causes drier, scalierskin that may be itchy as well.
The skin also loses its strength and elasticity, or ability to stretch. Thismakes the skin less able to smooth out, which may be part of the reason whywrinkles and sagging skin affectthe elderly.Another change with age is that a person’s skin will bruise more easily. Thisoccurs because the blood vessels in the skin become fragile and bleed easily.This skin change begins earlier in women than in men.
The layer of fat under the skin also becomes thinner with age. This is part ofthe reason for the thin, lean appearance of older people. It also contributesto loosening and wrinkling of the skin. This loss of fat also means a personhas less natural insulation. An older person is at greater risk for a low bodytemperature, or hypothermia, when exposed to cold.
The combined effects of skin aging can cause increased bruising and skin tears,even from minor injuries. Older people are also prone to getting damage to skinthat receives a high amount of pressure for long periods of time. Wounds inolder people may heal 4 to 5 times more slowly than in younger people.
Skin disorders are also more likely with age. More than 90% of the geriatricpopulation will have some type of skin condition. Environmental factors andinherited factors are a frequent cause of skin changes. The sun is a majorculprit in causing skin damage, though many other diseases can also cause skinchanges.
Sun damage can be easily seen in a person by comparingsun-exposed skin with areas that do not get sunlight. Unexposed skin tends tobe very elastic and smooth. Skin that has had a lot of exposure to the sun is dry, wrinkled, and sagging.A leathery, weather-beaten appearance of the skin is often seen in people whohave worked outside or spent a lot of time outdoors during their lives.Exposure to sunlight has been proven to increase the risk of skin cancer, which is mostcommonly seen in the elderly.
Article type: xmedgeneral