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Is your skin ageing prematurely? Find out with these signs

Skin expert Dr Geetanjali answers our queries on premature skin ageing.

premature skin ageingOur face's skin is much thinner and delicate than the rest of our body. Perhaps that's the reason we can see the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles more easily. While skin ageing usually starts in one's 40s, in some cases, people see these signs much earlier. This is known as premature ageing of skin. Dr Geetanjali Shetty, a consulting dermatologist and cosmetologist, helps us decipher the reasons for this phenomenon.

What are the reasons for premature skin ageing?

Premature ageing of the skin cannot be attributed to just one cause. Various environmental, hormonal and physiological factors have a profound effect on the skin. However, exposure to the sun's UVA rays causes the maximum damage. UVA rays penetrate deepest into the skin and are often referred to as 'ageing rays'. In high doses, these rays can cause darkening and pigmentation of the skin and accelerate the ageing process by damaging the underlying collagen, thus making the skin appear scaly, dry, wrinkled and leathery with dark patches.

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Other contributory factors include stress, lack of sleep and smoking. Lack of sleep and stress also diminish the amount of other hormones within the body like growth hormones which help nourish the skin and hair.

Smoking or introducing toxic chemicals into the body increase the number of free radicals, accelerating the ageing process and damaging the elasticity of the skin. Read 8 ways smoking affects your skin. For this reason, people who smoke, drink and take drugs often look far older than they are.

What are the signs of premature ageing of skin?

Most of the damage is visible but one may not be in a position to judge properly as the signs are very similar to regular skin wear and tear. For example, damage due to UVA ray exposure can lead to spider veins on the face, age spots, leathery skin, fine wrinkles that appear only when stretched.

A blotchy complexion and actinic keratosis (those rough, reddish patches of skin seen mostly around the temples and cheeks) are also indicators of premature ageing.

Similarly, drug abuse causes people to develop a deeply wrinkled and leathery skin. It is important to have your skin diagnosed and to follow remedial measures when you observe any of these signs of premature ageing. Take this quiz to find out if your skin is ageing early.

How can one avoid this?

If you are stepping out in the sun, a sunscreen, regardless of the season, is very important for the health of your skin. It should be used daily by all individuals, including children, all through the year, with other sun-safety steps for optimal sun protection. Sunscreens should be applied liberally and evenly so as not to miss any areas of sun-exposed skin. Skin that is not protected by an efficient sunscreen allows UVA rays to penetrate the outer layer of the skin which may even cause problems like skin cancer.

A good palm full or about 2 or 3 tablespoons per application is necessary to adequately cover your whole body. Apply 30 minutes before going out in the sun to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Re-apply every 2 to 3 hours or right after swimming, towel drying or intense exercise. When choosing a sunscreen, you need to ensure that the protective layer it forms is capable of keeping away UVA rays for an extended period of time by not 'breaking down'. Choose a sunscreen with a formulation like Helioplex that keeps the protective layer from breaking down.

Make sure that you get at least 6-7 hours of sleep daily, eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and consume alcohol in moderation. Avoid making too many facial expressions as the lines get permanent. Also avoid sleeping on your side with your face cheek to the pillow. This can cause wrinkles over time. Follow these simple procedures to take care of your skin so that it not only looks good on the outside but is also healthy inside. Here are 10 more tips to prevent skin ageing.

What can one do if they have premature skin ageing?

If the damage to your skin is already done, and lines are already visible, there is still help at hand. Skin can be rejuvenated by adding line-plumping moisture to hydrate and replenish it. When shopping for anti-ageing products, look for ingredients that have the stamp of approval of dermatologists and that are clinically proven to effectively prevent the formation of wrinkles, such as Retinol SA. Retinol (Vitamin A) is what keeps skin supple and smooth, but it breaks down and becomes ineffective when exposed to air. A stabilised form of retinol, like Retinol SA (sustained action) will be more effective in evening out the skin tone and texture.

Retinol SA works to continuously renew the look of skin throughout the day helping to smooth wrinkles faster and diminish the look of age spots. It is scientifically proven superior to other forms of Vitamin A, such as Pro-Retinol and Retinol Palmitate in its ability to penetrate the skin's surface and continues to work longer than Retinol A. It is advisable to start using an effective anti-ageing product when you enter your 40s, to avoid the signs of ageing. Here are some home remedies for ageing skin.

At what age does the skin start ageing?

Skin starts ageing when it stops producing the skin-affirming protein collagen, and therefore loses some elasticity. This usually happens when you enter your 40s. However, it may happen prematurely due to various factors discussed above.

Why does women's skin age faster than men's ?

Wrinkles are a sign of ageing and most of them are noticeable in the top layer of the skin. In men, the top layer of the skin is 25% thicker than women which makes them less prone to wrinkling. Also, since men have more collagen content in their skin which is lost more gradually in comparison to women, they tend to have a wrinkle-free skin for longer. Another factor that may help men look younger could be better oil shielding against moisture loss and dryness through secretion of larger amount of oils by their oil glands.

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