5 Things to Know About Thin Skin

By: Jennifer Sellers

The journey of skin is an interesting one. It goes from baby soft to acne-prone to loose and saggy -- all in the course of a life. One stage it goes through during this evolution is thinning. The skin around the eyes (you know, that area where the wrinkles are starting to multiply) is especially prone to thinness.

Generally, skin thins because of a series of changes in its structure, including the breakdown of collagen, a protein in the dermis that gives skin its plumpness and elasticity. However, the process can be caused by other factors as well. On the following pages, we'll explore the causes and potential treatments of thin skin. Keep reading to learn more.

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Aging Is the Primary Cause

No matter how well you care for your skin, it's not going to be the same at age 60 as it was at age 20. There's no getting around it. The skin has a natural aging process that involves a slowdown of cell division in the middle layer of skin, also known as the dermis. This process breaks down collagen and elastin fibers that thicken skin.

Age-related changes in the hypodermis, the inner layer of skin, can also lead to thinning. The primary alteration occurring in the hypodermis is the degradation of fatty cells.

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Not all risk factors for thin skin are as obvious as aging. Click on the next page to see what else you need to look out for.

Additional Risk Factors

While everyone will experience age-related skin thinning to one degree or another, some people are more prone to it than others. Genetics is a major player in skin thinness. So, if your parents had noticeably thin skin, chances are you will, too.

Another possible contributor to the thinning of skin is the long-term use of medications like corticosteroids. If you're on such a medication and you're worried about thin skin, ask your doctor if what you're taking is the best option for your condition. Even if it is, there are ways to improve care of your skin.

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The following page addresses a potential treatment for thin skin.

Collagen-Containing Lotions Aren't a Cure

Now that you know the breakdown of collagen in your dermis is a major cause of your skin thinness, you might be considering using collagen-containing lotion as a treatment. It sounds logical, right?

Actually, despite dubious marketing claims to the contrary, collagen in a lotion can't replace the collagen lost in your skin. One thing collagen-containing lotion can do is help moisturize your skin by locking in water. Since dry skin is more prone to thinning, providing it with extra moisture is never a bad idea.

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Another step you might want to take is to prevent further thinning of the skin. Keep reading to find out how.

Sun exposure

In addition to aging and family history, another big risk factor for thin skin is sun exposure. Ultraviolet (UV) light causes collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis to break down at a faster rate. So, one of the best ways to prevent or delay skin thinning is to cut back on your time in the sun by spending less time outdoors when the suns rays are at their most intense.

When you are out in the sun, wear a sunscreen with a full-spectrum coverage of at least SPF 15, and reapply it every two hours. Not only will these actions help your skin maintain some of its youthful plumpness, they will also help prevent other forms of sun-related skin damage.

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On the next page, we cover another strategy for preventing thin skin and improving its appearance.

Eat a Healthy Diet

When it comes to caring for your skin, you are what you eat. The healthier your skin is, the more likely it is to retain some of its plumpness. And one of the top ways to ensure healthy skin is to eat a diet rich in skin-boosting nutrients, including antioxidants like beta-carotene.

Adequate fluid intake is also essential. Dehydration, which occurs when the body hasn't received enough fluids, can lead to many types of skin damage, including thinness.

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If you'd like to learn more about skin care and protection, keep reading for lots more information.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Be Sun SmartSM." 2009. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.aad.org/public/sun/smart.html
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. "Skin (anatomy)." (Accessed 8/12/09) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/547591/human-skin
  • Gibson, Lawrence E. "Thin Skin: What Causes It?" September 26, 2007.
  • MayoClinic.com. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/thin-skin/AN01688
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Dry skin." December 16, 2008. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/moisturizers/SN00042/
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Prednisone and other corticosteroids: Balance the risks and benefits." June 7, 2008. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/steroids/HQ01431
  • Medline Plus. "Aging Changes in Skin." August 10, 2008. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004014.htm
  • Medline Plus. "Varicose Veins." (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/varicoseveins.html
  • Merck Source. "Skin (Integumentary System)." 2001. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.mercksource.com/ppdocs/us/cns/content/adam/visualbody/reftext/html/skin_sys_fin.html
  • National Institute on Aging. "Chapter 3: Biochemistry and Aging." January 31, 2008. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/AgingUndertheMicroscope/chapter03.htm
  • WebMD. "Skin Problems: Wrinkles." 2009. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/toc-image-picture-of-wrinkles
  • WebMD. "Varicose Veins and Spider Veins." 2009. (Accessed 8/7/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/varicose-spider-veins

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