Some of the most visible signs of ageing include wrinkles, thinning of the skin and sagging skin. Ageing skin is at greater of risk injury; it is also slower to heal than younger skin. Skin ages all over the body, but much more so in areas that have been exposed to the sun.
What happens to the skin as it ages?
As people grow older, the outer skin layer (epidermis) becomes thinner. The number of cell layers in the skin stays the same, but some cells decrease in number, such as melanocytes (pigment-containing cells). The melanocytes that are left then increase in size. The overall effect is thinner, paler and more translucent skin. Age spots (large areas of pigmentation also known as liver spots) may also appear in areas exposed to the sun.
The middle layer of the skin (dermis) contains blood vessels that become more fragile with ageing. This makes the skin more prone to the bruising and bleeding under the skin. The sebaceous glands ( oil-producing glands) produce less oil with age, which can lead to dry and itchy skin.
Skin may also appear leathery and weather beaten, due to changes in the connective tissue ( supporting framework) of the skin. The changes are called elastosis and reduce the skins strength and elasticity.
The layer under the dermis (subcutaneous layer) becomes thinner, which reduces the insulation function of the skin. The skin's sweat glands also produce less sweat, making harder to keep cool. These changes make it harder for older people to maintain body temperature.