What are Wrinkles

Womans profileChanges in the texture of the skin that appear as lines, creases or folds are called wrinkles. They are normal changes in the skin that occurs with aging. Medically, wrinkles are known as rhytides.

The two layers of skin include the outer epidermis which lies on top of the second layer called the dermis. With time there is a decrease of large structural molecules including collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans in the dermis. This leads to decreases in elasticity, firmness and structure of the skin resulting in wrinkles. The cells of the outer layer or epidermis slow their rate of cellular reproduction causing the epidermis to become thinner with age. With time the epidermis and dermis tend to separate some. This separation leads to decreased blood supply and nutrients to the cells of the epidermis.

Wrinkles begin as fine lines and deepen with time. They occur mostly on the face, neck, backs of the hands and the forearms. They are not physically harmful, but can of course influence a person’s self-perception, and lead to a lack of confidence.

Expression lines that occur on the forehead, eyes and the corners of the mouth from talking, laughing and frowning can begin as early as in a one’s twenties. These lines eventually deepen into wrinkles and folds that affect deeper layers of the skin. Wrinkling of the skin caused by sun exposure can show up in the thirties. In the forties as dry skin becomes a problem, lines begin to deepen and progress through the fifties and sixties.

This process of aging skin is accelerated by exposure to excess sunlight, environmental pollutants and cigarette smoke. Internal factors associated with aging skin include decreases in estrogen levels that occur with menopause and decreased in metabolic activity of the skin cells. Fair skinned people are also more prone to wrinkles. There is no real evidence that stress promotes wrinkle formation, but many of us feel we have ‘earned’ our wrinkles through life’s challenges.

Protecting the barrier function of the skin is an important way to decrease the formation of wrinkles. Use of a good moisturizer to help maintain water in the skin and prevent water loss can delay and diminish lines. Look for a moisturizer that contains water and high quality oils to help prevent loss of moisture from the skin. Humectants such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed proteins, even hydrolyzed oat products can help.

There is of course extensive research done each year to investigate possible ingredients for skin creams that can help in the treatment and prevention of wrinkles. Although many ingredients end up being marketing hype, there are a few ingredients that have potential to help decrease the appearance of wrinkles. The trouble is that some of the anti-aging creams are able to garner large price tags and it has
to be questioned whether it is worth the price without solid data to back up the claims.

Nutrients such as antioxidants help combat environmental damage and are important in diminishing wrinkles as well. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, carotenoids and green tea. Most importantly using these nutrients topically can only go so far. What we eat is also very important, so remember to eat fruits and vegetables that are high in these nutrients.

  • Sarah

    I’m a little confused because I had always understood that it was a myth that dry skin caused or contributed to wrinkles, and that dry skin merely makes the wrinkles you already have more visible (temporarily fixed by using a moisturizer, but no permanent effect of regular moisturizer use). Where does the truth lie? Thanks, Sarah