Age no hurry

With proper care, you can keep signs of ageing at bay

beautiful womanThe obvious manifestations of ageing are primarily on the skin. The key features that constitute skin ageing are wrinkling, sagging, darkening and dryness of skin. Although it is difficult to eliminate these problems completely, a little care goes a long way in reducing their severity.

  • Adapt a proper lifestyle and skin care routine for at least 3 – 6 months. In most individuals with early skin ageing, this routine alone will stop further ageing and even reverse certain changes.
  • Use anti-ageing products in the form of vitamin supplements, creams, exfoliants and peels. Generally all these products contain vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A derivatives [retinol], alphahydroxy acids such as glycolic acids and sunscreens. All these products help in reducing the fine wrinkles and early signs of ageing.
  • Try blackhead removal strips to unclog the pores.

Expert to the rescue

A dermatologist’s intervention is required when the ageing process progresses. The primary line of therapy includes using:

  • Creams containing tretinoin [vitamin A derivative] along with a sunscreen and oral antioxidants.
  • Drugs such as hydroquinone to reduce the pigmentation on the face.
  • Chemical peels with glycolic acid to correct age-related skin problems. Chemical peeling leads to controlled exfoliation of superficial skin and remodelling of collagen leading to tighter and more supple skin.
  • Botulinum toxin injections to treat crowfeet and frown lines.
  • Dermal fillers [soft tissue augmentation] to treat the static wrinkles.

Your skin care timetable

Following the below skin care routine. diligently takes care of most skin problems, at least delaying their occurrence.

  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect you from both, UVA and UVB rays of the sun.
  • Wear opaque, protective clothing, scarf and carry an umbrella when out in the sun.
  • Pamper your skin with fragrance-free and non-comedogenic moisturisers and gentle cleansers daily.
  • Avoid using facial scrubs too often as they tend to make the skin dry and erode the natural oils away.
  • Avoid smoking. Studies prove that smokers manifest greater skin ageing than non-smokers.
  • Eat a diet rich in iron, vitamin A, B, C, E and K and minerals like zinc and sulphur. Include lots of greens, pulses, garlic and fruits. You can reap the benefits of almost all the above-mentioned foods in their natural form or in the form of supplements.
  • Drink adequate water throughout the day.
  • Learn to manage stress.
  • Practise relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. A study done at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences [AIIMS] showed that a yoga-based lifestyle modification significantly reduced oxidative stress that plays a major role in the ageing process. Exercise your facial muscles regularly to maintain the tone and prevent wrinkling.

To age gracefully is no longer a dream. It is, however, important to take steps early on to maintain a youthful present and future.

The blacklist

Here are some changes that occur in our skin as we age:

  • Wrinkling occurs as the layers of collagen and elastin under the epidermis [visible skin] begin to thin. This happens most commonly on the face and neck.
  • Repeated facial muscle activity [laughing and frowning] sets certain lines on the face. These lines—also known as crow’s feet around the eyes and frown lines of the forehead—are the most obvious age-related changes seen in the 3rd – 4th decade of life.
  • Sagging of skin is another problem seen due to gravitational pull on the facial skin leading to drooping cheeks and formation of eye bags.
  • Due to the decreased elasticity of skin, the pores on the skin start getting larger. Retained skin cells and oils in these pores compound the enlarged appearance
  • Increased pigmentation or darkening of the skin is usually manifested more on the exposed areas of the body than the non-exposed areas. Sun exposure and hormones stimulate melanocytes [the cells responsible for the colour of skin] to overproduce the skin pigment leading to dark patches.
  • Freckles [known as solar lentigo] are formed in some fair-skinned individuals due to excess sun exposure.
  • Dryness and roughness of the skin results from inability of the skin to retain moisture. This is more pronounced on the hands and legs. Repeated exposure to irritants such as detergents and other household chemicals increases this problem and, can, in some cases, lead to development of eczema [skin inflammation characterised by redness, itching, and lesions].
Vinay V Gopalani
Dr Vinay V Gopalani is a clinical dermatologist with special interest in paediatric and adolescent dermatology. He is a treasurer of the Dermatologists' organisation of Thane (DOT).


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