Having a healthy outlook on life makes you feel better on the inside, and
with a little help, those positive changes can also be reflected on the
When men and women hit their 40s and 50s, their skin changes. The outer
later of skin stops turning over skin cells as quickly and uniformly as it did
when they were younger, which leaves skin looking dry, blotchy, and dull. That
process, combined with the cumulative effects of decades of sun exposure, makes
wrinkles and skin cancer prime concerns for this age group.
Is aging skin preventable? Sure, if you believe the ads for products that
claim to slow the aging process. But how much is your aging skin really under
With age, the skin suffers natural wear-and-tear, just like the rest of our
bodies. But much of what we think of as natural aging is in fact due to sun
exposure and other factors. That means it can be avoided -- and it's never too
late to start.
"Even if you're wilting away inside, everyone is more interested in
their appearance than the fact that they may be developing hypertension or
something," says Tina Alster, MD, director of the Washington Institute of
Dermatologic Laser Surgery.
"People always come in concerned about wrinkles," says Alster.
"I tell them 80% of wrinkles are related to cumulative sun damage.
Unfortunately, our skin never forgets the damage we do to it."
Alster says men tend to get fewer wrinkles than women because they have more
hair follicles in the face so they experience less wrinkling around the mouth.
But both men and women experience changes in the skin related to sun exposure,
like sun spots (also known as age spots) and precancerous lesions.
"People should have annual skin checks just like they have annual eye
checks," says Alster. For a schedule of recommended screening tests at
midlife, check out the Health Checklist for Women Over 40 and the Health
Checklist for Men Over 40.
During a total body skin check, a dermatologist picks out suspicious skin
lesions and then can hopefully remove them before they become cancerous or
spread. By catching these growths early, Alster says they can take advantage of
less invasive removal methods that are less likely to cause scarring, such as
creams, lasers, lights, and freezing.