Warning Signs of Premature Aging: Causes and Solutions
To paraphrase the saying that the only two things certain in life are death and taxes, we could amend “death” with “aging”—because for many, aging is nothing more than a slow and painful death. And although we have not yet found a way to cheat the natural aging process, what we can do is prevent and treat many causes of premature aging through a variety of solutions.
The biggest cause of aging skin is the decrease in the production of collagen and elastin that is needed to help skin maintain its integrity and tone. Loss of elasticity, decrease or change in color, fine wrinkling, thinning of layers, increased itchiness, etc. are all signs that your skin is aging and taking the rest of your body down (sagginess) with it.
For relatively minor skin aging such as crow’s feet and fine line wrinkling, creams containing Retinol are popular and effective solutions. In addition to Retinol-based creams there are also coffee bean caffeine creams and berry-based creams that rely on antioxidant and other components that can help plump up the skin around crow’s feet and other fine facial lines. “Yes to Blueberries Intensive Skin Repair Serum” is one example of a highly recommended commercial product suggested by renowned dermatologist and skin researcher Dr. Anne Chapas who appears frequently on TV for her expert skin care opinions.
For skin with minor age-related skin damage and flaws, chemical peel solutions such as the “Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Retexturizing Peel” is a popular and effective way to get dermatological results at home. Products like this typically contain a cream and a stack of face-wipe pads with a slightly textured surface to help with exfoliation of dead skin cells to reveal the underlying healthy facial skin cells.
For deeper wrinkles or resistant age spots, however, home kits are less effective meaning that a visit to the dermatologist is needed. Dermatologists provide laser ablation techniques that can not only remove the older damaged skin, but stimulate the production of new collage that can then result in smoother, younger-appearing skin.
However, the blame cannot be placed on age-related collagen loss alone. As it turns out our youthful indiscretions have a way of advancing premature aging in our declining years—which approximately begins at age 23 according to what marketing and advertising would have us believe.
The worse offender in this case is damage to the skin from outdoor sun bathing, indoor tanning and normal unprotected sun expose when outdoors either working or playing. This kind of skin damage is clinically known as photoaging and can lead to freckling, spider veins on the face, age spots, leathery skin, fine wrinkles that disappear only when stretched, a blotchy complexion, actinic keratosis (those rough, reddish patches of skin seen mostly around the temples and cheeks), and worst of all—skin cancer.
The best solution for preventing further skin damage from the sun is to religiously apply sun screens 30 minutes before going outdoors. It’s never too late to take this practice whether you are 8 months or 80 years. Furthermore, although sun bathing and indoor tanning do provide a healthy appearance, the long-term effects for such short-time results can make all the difference in not only how good you look throughout your life, but how long you may live. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 2 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are found in this country each year. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for more than 75,000 cases of skin cancer in 2012.
The biggest reason why people fail to use sunscreen as often as they should is because most sunscreens are messy. One solution around this is a sunscreen product called “Shady Wipes SPF 30” that comes in easily applicable and disposable wipes without the mess of lotions. Like a regular sunscreen it should be applied 10-15 minutes before going outside and repeatedly if washed off by water or sweat.
Smoking, drinking and drug use
Cigarette smoking, drinking and drug use cause biochemical changes in the way of introducing toxic substances that increase the number of free radicals in our cells, which in turn can accelerate the aging process.
Research has shown that a person who smokes half a pack or more of more cigarettes per day for a minimum of 10 years is more likely to develop deeply wrinkled, leathery skin than a nonsmoker. Furthermore, the skin can also develop an unhealthy yellowish tone as well. Smoking is known to interfere with blood flow to your skin and preventing nutrients and oxygen from getting to the skin cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, numerous chemicals in tobacco smoke can harm the fibers that give your skin elasticity and strength.
Drinking affects the skin through dehydration by acting as a diuretic that robs the skin of needed moisture. In addition, research studies have shown that high levels of alcohol consumption can exacerbate the skin condition psoriasis (reddish spots and patches covered with silvery scales) and cause skin to bruise easily as well as cause fine blood vessels close to the skin’s surface to rupture leaving an unsightly spider webbing of redness around the nose and cheeks.
Drug use, like alcohol, is damaging to the liver and can cause yellowing of the skin and an overall sickly complexion. Meth is especially damaging to skin and its use (even habitual) has been shown to age people as much as 20 years with just one year’s use.
The only solution to these causes of premature aging is to stop taking these poisons and get busy on achieving good health through proper diet and exercise.
There’s a reason why people may say “You look like death warmed over” when you are exhausted from not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation noticeably ages a person with a puffiness of the face, dark circles and bagginess under the eyes, and a skin pallor that looks like something from “The night of the living dead.”
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol, which can then break down collagen—the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Sleep loss also causes the body to produce reduced amounts of human growth hormone that among other things like increases muscle mass and strengthen bone, but also nourishes skin and aids skin repair.
The way you sleep can also cause premature aging of the skin through repeated physical pressure on the same areas of the face. Consistent sleep lines on your face are one sign you should watch for that will tell you that you may be damaging your skin by physically forcing the development of wrinkles and creases. People who sleep face-down or on one side with their face pressed against the pillow throughout the night are much more likely to develop early wrinkling and creases than people who sleep on their back.
The solution to this is to get into the habit of at least changing your falling-to-sleep position on a nightly basis if not throughout the night. If this does not work for you, can also try different styles of pillows and see which result in less facial creasing after a night’s rest.
The No. 1 solution to premature aging
The No. 1 solution to preventing and treating premature aging that appears in the majority of health recommendations is good nutrition. Numerous studies are continually demonstrating that we are what we eat and that a diet high in trans fats, sugar and salt is not only adversely affecting our heart, but our skin as well.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and is continually regenerating itself as old skin cells die off and new ones take their place. Furthermore, natural oils from the sebaceous glands keep the skin conditioned and maintaining a soft and supple condition. However, to keep the skin operating like a well-oiled machine it needs to be fueled with the right ingredients.
Research shows that following recommended vitamins and nutrients for healthy young-appearing skin include:
• Vitamin A at 5000 I.U. (injection units) daily
• Vitamin E at 200-400 I.U. in the morning
• Vitamin C at a minimum of 1,000 milligrams daily
• Alpha Lipoic Acid 100 milligrams in divided doses during breakfast and lunch
• Acetyl L-Carnitine- at a daily dose of 500-1,500 milligrams
• L-Glutamine at 25 grams daily spread out over 3 doses
• Silica— 15 drops in 8 ounces of clean water, twice daily
• Omega-6 and/or Omega-3 essential fatty acids— For fish oil, 1-2 teaspoons a day with meals. For super GLA/DHA, 3 capsules, 2 times a day with a meal.
The take-home message to preventing premature aging is to watch for warning signs as you age and be able to differentiate between what is normal aging and what is not; take preventive measures with a healthy lifestyle; and be sure to get enough vitamins and nutrients to keep your skin well-fed and healthy.
Image: Courtesy of MorgueFile