What Causes Wrinkles?
Wrinkles are caused by loss of collagen in the skin. This is a natural part of the aging process, but many everyday habits can also contribute to wrinkles, including:
- Damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays
- Poor nutrition
- Environmental pollution and toxins
- Repeated facial expressions
- Chronic dehydration
- Repeated pressure on the side of your face, such as sleeping with your cheek pushed against a pillow
- Smoking and tobacco use
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90 percent of visible changes to the skin, including wrinkles, dark spots, and rough texture, are a result of the sun’s damage.
Your genes may also play a part in when and where you develop wrinkles.
A Weakening of the Skin
Skin has three layers:
- The epidermis is the outermost layer of your skin.
- The dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis, which contains your hair follicles, sweat glands, and connective tissue.
- The hypodermis is the deepest layer and comprised of flat connective tissue
Collagen is a major type of protein found throughout the layers of skin, as well as in bones, muscles, and tendons. It helps provide skin with its strength, elasticity, and youthful smoothness. In fact, collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body.
As we age, collagen in our body breaks down and causes skin to become drier, less elastic, and less dense. For most people, this occurs naturally as we age, though there are some steps we can take to prevent wrinkles and skin damage.
Wrinkle Prevention Tips
- Don’t smoke: Smoking takes away oxygen and nutrients from the skin and increases free radicals, which cause skin aging.
- Drink plenty of water: Not only is moisturizing from within important, but drinking water rids your body of toxins.
- Eat lots of antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E, and beta carotene in foods, including blueberries, spinach, walnuts, and cranberries, are all good sources of antioxidants.
- Moisturize your skin: A good moisturizer can help keep skin hydrated. You should also avoid excessively washing your face, as it strips your skin of its natural oils.
- Avoid the sun: Wear white or light clothes and a hat when outdoors. Don’t use tanning booths, as they can provide more direct UV exposure than from the sun itself.
- Apply sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 a half-hour before sun exposure to protect from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
- Sleep on your back: Sleeping with your face pressed against the pillow can cause sleep lines, which can become wrinkles over time.
Treatments to Prevent or Minimize Wrinkles
If you’re concerned about wrinkles and damaged skin, speak to your doctor or dermatologist. He or she can help you develop a treatment plan. Some medical options to treat wrinkles include:
- Chemical Peels: During a chemical peel, an exfoliating solution is applied to the skin to improve wrinkles, mild scarring, and uneven coloring.
- Microdermabrasion: During this non-invasive procedure, a pen-like instrument is used to remove dead layers of skin, which, in turn, stimulates the growth of new, healthy skin cells.
- BOTOX: This popular cosmetic procedure inhibits the muscles that contract beneath your skin, giving it a smoother appearance. BOTOX is most commonly injected into the skin of the face or neck.
- Dermal Fillers: These injections reduce wrinkles by restoring lost facial volume.
- Laser Skin Resurfacing: During these procedures, a laser is directed to the area of the skin that is being treated, where it removes the outer layer of skin. This stimulates the growth of new collagen fibers.
Interested in learning more? Visit the website for Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery at UPMC.