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Skin Care

The Way We Age
By Genesis Pharmaceutical, Inc.
Jan 10, 2004, 01:17

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As we grow older, our skin shows signs of aging from two different processes...

Chronologic aging, or natural aging, involves changes in the skin that occur over time. Changes to the skin due to aging can be seen as dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, age spots and mottling. Visible signs of aging of the skin start at about age 25 as the natural regenerative processes begin to slow. The skin replaces old cells more slowly and there is a slower turnover of the surface skin and slower wound healing.

After age 45 a thinning of the skin begins due, in part, to hormonal changes. This thinning makes the skin...

  • more fragile and vulnerable to damage by abrasion
  • more sensitive to irritating environmental factors and allergens
  • lose much of its strength and elasticity because the coils of collagen and elastin suffer cuts and crosslinking damage

Thinning also causes the moisture-holding proteoglycans and GAGs to decrease in abundance. As they decrease, the skin...

  • gets dryer and looser
  • loses fat, so it looks less plump and smooth
  • loses its youthful color and glow due to fewer blood vessels in the skin

During aging the oil-producing (sebaceous) glands become less active, and your skin becomes drier. It becomes more sensitive to the use of harsh soaps and disinfectants that more easily damage skin. In fact, wrinkles around the eyes are characteristic signs of skin damage. The skin also tends to heal more slowly and more minor blemishes develop. And while all these changes are taking place, gravity is at work, pulling at the skin, causing it to sag.

Photoaging is the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, usually from the sun. Yet, photoaging isn't only the result of intentional exposure to the sun, for the purpose of tanning, for example. Photoaging commonly occurs on the face, neck, arms and hands, since these body parts are exposed daily to the sun during outdoor activities.

While it is commonly believed chronic sun exposure "speeds up" the natural aging process, that's only partially true. Photoaging actually involves major changes in the tissues and cells that are different from those found in naturally aging skin.

Photoaged or photodamaged skin is what is usually referred to as "old skin." It can be dry, rough, leathery, yellow, deeply wrinkled and mottled. In addition, it may have numerous age or liver spots and irregular pigmentation, as well as benign and malignant growths.

Age, sun or liver spots
Flat, brownish skin discolorations (solar lentigines) found primarily on the face, hands and arms are called age spots, sun spots and sometimes liver spots. Although they have nothing to do with the liver, the name probably comes from their color and liver-shaped appearance.

Age spots...

  • vary in size from one-quarter of an inch to several inches
  • are the result of accumulated sun damage
  • generally show up on skin after age 40
  • are often blamed for giving away a person's age
  • are not harmful, nor likely to become malignant (If what you assume is an age spot grows or changes, see your doctor.)

Effective treatments for aging skin
The actions of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) make it especially effective in treating the effects of photodamaged skin and skin aging. In fact, applications of glycolic acid and glycolic acid peels can significantly improve...

  • fine lines and wrinkling
  • surface roughness
  • dry skin
  • irregular pigmentation
  • poor skin tone

The concentration of glycolic acid available to the skin in commercially available cosmetics and medications determines their effect on the skin. Over-the-counter preparations generally contain alpha hydroxy acid concentrations of only 3% to 6%.

The following chart shows the effect of glycolic acid on the skin at various concentrations:  

Free Acid Values and Their Effects
Data based on studies that disclosed both AHA concentration and pH. All AHA concentrations greater than 10%.
Free Acid Effects on Skin
0%-2% Increased moisturization

Smoother, softer skin

Moderate increase in Gags

4%-8% Moderate increase in cell turnover

Significant increase in Gags

8%-12% Significant increase in cell turnover

Moderate increase in collagen deposition

12%-15% Significant increase in collagen deposition

Thicker, less fragmented elastic fibers

20% Reversal of sundamaged cells

More uniform melanin pattern


For the best results in improving the appearance of aging skin, please consult your dermatologist and ask about these professionally recommended products from Genesis Pharmaceutical.

Glytone Fading Lotion with glycolic acid

Glytone Skin Rejuvenation System

WellSkin Rejuvenation System

This article is taken from Genesis Pharmaceutical Website, used with permission.


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The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only.  Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician - patient relationship. Consult a dermatologist, if you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease.
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