As our body ages, it naturally undergoes signs of aging and becoming old. In the later years, a variety of important functions start operating at a suboptimal level. Three main factors are responsible for the body’s aging process.
- As our age advances & we become old, the body starts creating non functional cells which results in rapid deterioration of body’s functions. As we further age, greater percentage of our cells, even though they are present, are not of any use. And even worse is that, these non functional cells sometimes interfere with normal cellular processes.
- This relates to cellular damage which leads to the shortening of DNA, eventually activating “programmed cell death” or “apoptosis”. When the mitochondria in each of the cells act as energy generators during normal cell functions, oxygen free radical by-products are formed, hence healthy DNA can get damaged, giving rise to DNA fragments and activating cell death. With progressing time, increased damage to DNA quickens the process of cell death & the body simply cannot create cells fast enough to remunerate for the loss. This process is most visible and obvious in skin – the older we get, the thinner the skin becomes.
- Cellular down-regulation of our natural oxidative enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and catalase and glutathione peroxidase, making our anti-oxidant defenses less efficient with age.
Categories of Aging:
Biological – Every individual has a biological clock or chronological age determined by the genetic makeup. As our biological clock ticks, skin loses its capacity to function as it once did. Biological aging results from natural changes within the body that are manifested as outward signs of aging on the skin. Often, these changes are a result of gradual shift in the balance of certain hormones and messenger molecules excreted by other glands & organs within the body. Most of these are genetically determined changes that cannot be stopped.
A healthy diet (anti-aging foods & diet) full of anti-oxidant rich vegetables and fruits, nutritional supplementation and topical application (anti-aging skin care creams) of key nutrients may help in reducing the intensity and delay the occurrence of many changes that are a result of biological aging.
Environmental – External sources in the environment, such as daily exposure to a number of free radicals from a variety of sources; the ultra violet rays of the sun, smoke, harsh weather, pollution and external stress. As a result, the lipids, proteins, DNA, all of which control the ability of cells to function and cripple the integrity of overall cell composition, are damaged. Years of accumulated stress on cellular structures results in early aging of the skin.
Exposure to sun is one of the main important factors responsible for damaged skin. This process is termed as photoaging. Photoaging accounts for almost 90% of premature skin aging & therefore regular sunscreen usage is one of the best anti-aging treatments. Photoaging impairs collagen, elastin, melanocytes, and the moisture barrier, giving rise to wrinkles, sagging, uneven skin tone, dark spots, rough & dry skin texture.
Mechanical – This occurs as a result of continually repeated wrinkle causing behaviors, muscle movements repeated again and again. Following behaviors should be avoided to help in preventing premature signs of mechanical aging of the face:
-Resting chin or cheek in the hand (The thinker stance)
-Sleeping on stomach or on sides
-Scrubbing with hot water
-Pursing the lips while drinking from a straw or smoking
-Lack of sleep
How does aging of the facial skin take place?
The appearance of the face and neck classically changes with age. Thinning skin and loss of muscle tone imparts a flabby or drooping appearance to the face & eyes. In some people, sagging jowls may give the look of a “double chin.”
The skin also dries out and loses the underlying layer of fat so that your face no longer has a plump smooth surface. To some extent, wrinkles cannot be avoided. However, sun exposure and cigarette smoking are likely to speed up their development. The number and size of blotches and dark spots on the face increase as well. These pigment changes are largely due to sun exposure.
Missing teeth and receding gums change the appearance of the mouth so the lips may look shrunken. Loss of bone mass in the jaw makes the lower face look small and the forehead, nose, and mouth become more pronounced. The nose may also lengthen slightly.
The ears may lengthen in some people (probably caused by cartilage growth). Men may develop hair in their ears that grow longer, coarser, and more notable as the age advances. Ear wax dries up because there are fewer wax glands in the ears and they produce less oil. The hardened ear wax may lead to blockage in the ear canal and hamper a person’s ability to hear.
Eyebrows and eyelashes turn gray. As in other parts of the face, the skin around the eyes gets wrinkles, creating crow’s feet; at the side of the eyes.
Fat from the eyelids settle into the eye sockets. This gives eyes a sunken look. The lower eyelids can slacken and bags can develop under your eyes. Weakening of the muscle that supports the upper eyelid can make the eyelids droop (Droopy eyes also called ptosis). This may limit vision.
The outer surface of the eye (cornea) may develop a grayish-white ring. The colored portion of the eye (iris) loses pigment, making most of the aged people appear to have gray or light blue eyes.
Prevention of premature skin aging:
- The main factor responsible for causing premature aging is UV radiation. Hence, it is essential to use a daytime moisturizer with sunscreen in order to prevent the skin from getting damaged due to UV radiation.
- Using products specifically devised for a particular individual’s skin type is the first and foremost step in preventing needless skin damage.
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