Special Report

15 Things That Happen to Your Skin as You Get Older

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11. It can become very dry

Xerosis is the medical term for dry skin, which is common especially among older people. As the skin ages it loses water and oils, making it more difficult to retain moisture. The skin gets dry and appears rough and hardened.

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12. Epidermis becomes thinner

Age does not lower the number of skin cell layers, but it affects their strength. As people get older, the skin becomes thinner gradually – at an average rate of about 6.4% per decade, according to research. The epidermis, the outer layer of the skin, decreases in thickness, particularly in the face, neck, upper part of the chest and hands, and the back of forearms.

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13. Age spots appear

Age spots – small, dark brown areas on the skin that, unlike freckles, don’t fade — can technically appear on all skin types but are more common in older people with light skin. The most common parts of the body where they appear are in parts exposed to the sun, such as shoulders, hands, face, and arms. Age spots are not a health problem, unless they change in appearance, which may be a sign of skin cancer.

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14. Blood vessels become fragile

Blood vessels lose elasticity with age, which makes them more susceptible to breaking. Common conditions associated with fragile blood vessels of the dermis are bruising, bleeding under the skin, and cherry angiomas (red moles on the skin). The most common parts of the body where bruising can occur as a result of this are the back of the arms and legs.

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15. Pressure ulcers

Pressure ulcers are often referred to as bed sores, implying that only people who are bed bound develop them. While reduced mobility is a major risk factor for pressure ulcers, people who are able to walk can also get pressure ulcers. Skin changes, including the loss of fat layers in the dermis, can cause pressure ulcers, according to the National Institutes of Health. The skin’s slower healing process as a result of aging can contribute to sores and other skin infections as well.