Aging is an inevitable process that the human body experiences. The skin, like any other organ, experiences the deleterious effects of time. But unlike others, these disorders are visible to everyone around us. Moreover, the skin can show the signs of diseases of other organs by excreting their toxins.
Our appearance plays a major role in our social relations, the way we feel about ourselves, and in the way others picture us. Therefore, it is important to take good care of our skin to delay any signs of aging.
In order to determine preventive measures, you should first understand the structure and the roles of your skin as well as the forces which harm it.
The largest organ you have is your skin and its main function is to be a protective barrier against environmental factors, such as injuries, infections, sun rays, and harmful substances.
In addition, the skin has a lot of specialized cells and structures which get information from the outside and send it to the brain to process and regulate the behavior of the entire body.
The skin is made up of 3 layers:
- the epidermis, an outer thin layer containing various types of epithelial cells along with cells that produce the skin's pigment (melanin), cells that play an important defensive role (Langerhans' cells), and Merkel's cells which function as sensitive receptors.
- the dermis, which is the thickest one, containing a network of elastin, collagen and reticular fibers surrounding blood vessels, nerves, muscles, sweat cells, and hair follicles with oil-producing and apocrine cells. At this level there are also nerve cells serving as receptors for temperature, touch and pain.
- and finally is the subcutaneous tissue, composed mostly of fatty cells, which have a resistance role.
As time passes, your skin changes. It becomes loose, thinner, drier and wrinkled, and slower to heal. The wrinkles occur mainly as a result of the rupture of the elastin fibers and the decreasing production of collagen fibers in the dermis but the diminishing of the fatty cells play a role in this as well as the decreasing bonds between the epidermis and dermis.
The main factors that produce or accelerate the damage are: sunlight, smoking, pollution, muscle use, inadequate diet, genetic background, and the lowering of hormonal levels at menopause.
Sunlight (the UV rays actually) damages the collagen and elastin fibers, and causes the development of some abnormal elastin fiber types. This results in a looseness of the skin and its inability to retract after stretching, causing the formation of wrinkles. It further produces a higher rate of evaporation, making skin drier.
Thus it is advisable at any age to avoid sunlight at midday and regularly use sunscreen creams with SPF 15 or higher. In addition, you should drink a lot of water, about 50-60 ounces daily. This water intake is also helpful in eliminating toxins through urine, rather than through skin pores.
Smoking and other air polluting factors produce free radicals in the cells of the skin, altering these cells and their genetic material. It is important to emphasize the importance of quiting smoking because smokers get wrinkled at an younger age than non-smokers, directly proportional to the years and the number of cigarettes smoked daily.
Wrinkle Prevention And Treatments
Researchers have found that many dietary factors can play a role in aging of the skin. It is highly recommended that you include antioxidants in your diet, such as vitamin C, A, D, E, and beta carotene.
There are a lot of medical and surgical treatments for removing the signs of aging from the skin. But why wait until you get a problem, when you can do something about it now? Preventing is better than curing.
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Copyright 2006 Ron King.
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