Aging can change your skin in ways that can surprise you. It becomes thinner, loses fat, and no longer looks as plump and smooth as it once did. Your veins and bones can be seen more easily. Scratches, cuts, or bumps can take longer to heal. Years of sun tanning or being out in the sunlight for a long time may lead to wrinkles, dryness, age spots, and even cancer. Monitor your skin for changes.
Aging: Actinic Keratosis
Ultraviolet light from the sun or from a manmade source like a tanning bed causes these raised, crusty growths. You’ll probably have more than one. Most turn red, but some can be tan or pinkish. They can turn into cancer if not treated. The doctor may prescribe a cream, remove them with surgery, or freeze or burn them off.
Aging: Seborrheic Keratosis
These tan or brown spots can appear almost anywhere on your body, especially after middle age. You’ll probably have more than one. They’re harmless, but they can look like pre-cancer growths or skin cancer, so get your doctor to check them out.
Aging: Age Spots
Also called liver spots, these small dark patches often show up in places that get lots of sun, like your face, hands, shoulders, and arms. They’re more common if you’re over 50, but you can get them if you’re younger and you spend a lot of time outside. They don’t require treatment, but your doctor may take a sample to make sure it isn’t cancer. He can lighten them with bleaching products or remove them if you want. To prevent them, use sunscreen and avoid the sun.
Aging: Cherry Angioma
These small, red bumps or growths can show up anywhere on your body, but they’re more common on or near your chest, belly, and back. They don’t hurt, but they might bleed if they get hit or scraped. They’re usually fine left alone, but your doctor can remove them with a laser if you don’t like the way they look.
Aging: Skin Tags
These small flaps of tissue hang from your skin by a kind of stalk. You’ll usually find them on your chest, back, neck, armpits, or around your groin. They aren’t dangerous, but they can get irritated if your clothes or jewelry rub against them. If one bothers you, the doctor might cut it off, freeze it off, or burn it off with an electric current or laser.
Aging: Solar Elastosis
Long-term sun damage can turn your skin yellow and cause bumps and deep ridges. It affects people of all skin tones but it’s more obvious on light skin. It’s worse if you smoke. The sun only affects the top layer of your skin, but tobacco smoke causes damage deeper down. If you have this condition, don’t smoke. Stay out of the sun.
Aging: Varicose Veins
Weakened blood vessels can start to swell and twist or bulge. They mostly show up on your legs and feet. They don’t usually signal a serious problem, but they can be linked to inflamed veins that result in superficial blood clots. And they often ache. Your doctor may give you a pair of compression socks or stockings to add pressure and help get rid of them. If that doesn’t work, he might suggest minor surgery.
Aging: Spider Veins
These small bundles of broken blood vessels often pop up on your legs, ankles, feet, and maybe even your face. Causes include a backup of blood, hormone changes, or an injury. They don’t point to a major health problem, but they can itch or burn. Try tight compression stockings to put the squeeze on them.
Aging: Leg Ulcers
Blood flow problems make it easy for the skin on your lower legs and feet to get injured. If bacteria get in the broken skin, the whole area can become infected. If you have a health condition like diabetes that makes you heal slower, you might wind up with an open sore, or ulcer. The doctor will keep the wound clean and tell you to keep moving, raise your legs, and, in some cases, put pressure on the area. You may need surgery if they don’t go away.
When tiny blood vessels near the surface of your skin break, you get a bruise. As you get older, your skin gets thinner and loses fat, which can make you bruise more easily. It’s usually nothing to worry about, but it could be a sign of something more serious.
They’re gonna show up as you age, but you might be able to slow the process with healthy food, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise. Protect yourself from the sun and watch out for strong soaps that strip natural oils from your skin. Don’t smoke, it makes them worse. Chemical peels, injections, laser treatments, and surgery can get rid of some.
Aging: Keep Your Skin Healthy
Some sun can be good for you, but to keep your skin healthy, be careful:
- Limit time in the sun. It’s okay to go out during the day, but try to avoid being in sun during peak times when the sun’s rays are strongest. For example, during the summer, try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Don’t be fooled by cloudy skies. The sun’s rays can go through clouds. You can also get sunburned if you are in water, so be careful when you are in a pool, lake, or the ocean.
- Use sunscreen. Look for sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) number of 15 or higher. It’s best to choose sunscreens with “broad spectrum” on the label. Put the sunscreen on 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours. You need to put sunscreen on more often if you are swimming, sweating, or rubbing your skin with a towel.
- Wear protective clothing. A hat with a wide brim can shade your neck, ears, eyes, and head. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of the sun’s rays. If you have to be in the sun, wear loose, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants or long skirts.
- Avoid tanning. Don’t use sunlamps or tanning beds. Tanning pills are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and might not be safe.
Your skin may change with age. But remember, there are things you can do to help. Check your skin often. If you find any changes that worry you, see your doctor.