Thin Skin Overview

By: John Barrymore

Skin Problems Image Gallery Increased age, sun exposure, and genetics can all contribute to the thinning of the skin, increasing susceptibility to injury. See more pictures of skin problems. Malchrowicz

Wrinkles happen. Over time your skin changes. Soft and smooth baby skin turns to sometimes acne-riddled, adolescent skin. As you mature, your skin loses elasticity, which inevitably leads to skin that begins to sag and stretch. Moreover, some areas of your skin -- like the skin around your eyes -- are thinner and more susceptible to crow's feet and other fine lines. Thin skin is one of the most prominent effects of time's passage and is to blame for many of the telltale signs of aging.

To understand thin skin, you must understand the composition of skin. Like the rest of your body, your skin is made up of tissue, groups of cells bound together to serve a particular purpose. Skin tissue is composed of three layers: the epidermis, dermis and the hypodermis [source: Merck Source]. The epidermis, or outer layer, is made mostly of dead skin cells that contain keratin, the protein that makes your skin durable and protects the underlying layers. The dermis, or middle layer, contains collagen and fibers that strengthen your skin and give it flexibility. The hypodermis, or inner layer, is composed of fatty tissue that connects your skin to the underlying tissue and cushions the body from daily bumps and bangs [source: Encyclopedia Britannica].


When you notice dry, flaking skin, you may be observing a reduction in keratin in the epidermis. Thinning skin may be a sign that collagen in the dermis is breaking down. If your skin begins sagging or drooping, then you might have lost some of the fatty tissue that pads the hypodermis.

Read on to learn more about the causes of thin skin as well as ways to slow and reduce thinning.