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The Effects of Aging on Skin

Other Skin Changes

Gravity, facial movement, and sleep position are the secondary factors that contribute to changes in the skin. When the skin loses its elasticity, gravity causes drooping of the eyebrows and eyelids, looseness and fullness under the cheeks and jaw (jowls and "double chin"), and longer ear lobes.

Facial movement lines become more visible after the skin starts losing its elasticity (usually as people reach their 30s and 40s). Lines may appear horizontally on the forehead, vertically on the skin above the root of the nose (glabella), or as small curved lines on the temples, upper cheeks, and around the mouth.

Sleep creases result from the way the head is positioned on the pillow and may become more visible after the skin starts losing its elasticity. Sleep creases are commonly located on the side of the forehead, starting above the eyebrows to the hairline near the temples, as well as on the middle of the cheeks. Sleeping on your back may improve these sleep creases or prevent them from becoming worse.

Smokers tend to have more wrinkles than nonsmokers of the same age, complexion, and history of sun exposure.

Dry skin and itching is common in later life. About 85% of older people develop "winter itch," because overheated indoor air is dry. The loss of oil glands as we age may also worsen dry skin. Anything that further dries the skin (such as overuse of soaps or hot baths) will make the problem worse. If your skin is very dry and itchy, see a doctor because this condition can affect your sleep, cause irritability, or be a symptom of a disease. Some medicines make the itchiness worse.

Brush Up on Beauty

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