Bruises and cuts aren't just for kids, but they probably healed faster when you were younger. You might look at your leg or arm and notice bruises that you don't remember getting and that seem to take forever to heal. You might notice that you bleed more easily, too. As you age, the blood vessels of the dermis, the middle layer of skin that contains the collagen and elastin, damage much more easily than when you were younger. And, because your skin is thinner, it is more delicate and will tear more easily. Your cells replace themselves more slowly, so it's best to clean and protect your wounds to avoid infection [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
Another result of aging is the thinning of fatty tissue in the subcutaneous layer of skin. This fat provides protective padding and helps your body maintain its temperature. If you are not careful, you can experience hypothermia. The fatty layer also absorbs some medications, so ask your doctor what effects aging may have on any prescription medication you take [source: University of Maryland Medical Center].
If you like being outdoors in the sun, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30) and a wide-brimmed hat. Reduced elasticity and sun discoloration can give you a leathery look. That same look can also show up as the result of sun damage from your younger days that doesn't always appear until you're older.
The sun isn't the only culprit of aging skin. Smoking also tops the list because it can give your skin a yellowish tint and deep, creased wrinkles.
If your face tends to hold the same expression -- like a worried furrow or a constant smile -- remember that facial expressions as well as facial exercises can cause more fine lines and wrinkles [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Even sleeping with your face on the pillow in the same position for years can eventually lead to wrinkles.
Aging is an inevitable part of life, as are the signs of it on your skin -- for most people. To learn more about aging skin and how to protect it, keep reading to find more links and articles below.
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- American Academy of Dermatology. "Causes of Aging Skin." American Academy of Dermatology. (Accessed Sept. 19, 2009)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/basicfacts.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Mature Skin." (Accessed Sept. 9, 2009)http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/sun_mature.html
- Skin Cancer Foundation. "The Ugly Duckling Sign: An Early Melanoma Recognition Tool." (Accessed Oct. 2, 2009)http://www.skincancer.org/the-ugly-duckling-sign.html
- University of Maryland Medical Center. "Aging Changes in Skin -- Overview." Aug. 10, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 19, 2009)http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/004014.htm
- WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Understanding Your Skin." July 29, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 19, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/understanding-your-skin