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What Causes Wrinkles?

As a person ages, she can expect wrinkles and other visible signs of age to affect the skin of her body, especially the face. Most people associate wrinkles with age - even though, in some rare cases, young people can exhibit wrinkles. Modern dermatology and skin care products can reduce and even eliminate wrinkles.

But what exactly are wrinkles, in a biological sense? What causes the skin to crease and fold, creating wrinkles? Read on to find out.

Wrinkles and aging

Wrinkles usually begin as a person ages. Epidermal cells become thinner and less sticky with age. Skin becomes noticeably thinner. The decreased cellular stickiness reduces the skin's ability to retain moisture, which causes dryness. In addition, epidermal cells slowly die off with age. Approximately 10% of the body's epidermal cells die every decade, and those left behind tend to divide more slowly. Thus the skin heals and repairs itself much more slowly.

The dermal, second layer of the skin, has a more direct impact on the formation of wrinkles. The dermal layer thins and produces less collagen. Elastin fibers, which give the skin elasticity and stretch, begin to wear out. These changes cause the skin to sag, creating wrinkles. Sebaceous glands produce less sebum and the number of sweat glands decreases, adding further to the problem of skin dryness.

The ridges between the dermis and epidermis flatten out, making the skin more fragile and more liable to shear. This loss of contact between the two layers of skin reduce the amount of nutrients available to the epidermis from the dermal layer.

The subcutaneous layer of the skin's fat cells shrink. This shrinkage reduces the volume beneath the skin, as the fat cells can't fill in the volume lost by the above layers. This leads to noticeable wrinkles and sagging.

Environmental effects and wrinkles

Many environmental factors contribute to wrinkles. These include exposure to sunlight, environmental free radicals (ozone and pollution), hormones and even gravity. Habitual muscle use can cause wrinkles and lines, such as frown lines or laugh lines, on the face.

Sunscreen can prevent the damage and wrinkles caused by sunlight. Antioxidants, both dietary and topical, help to combat the ravages of free radicals. Estrogen replacement therapy can counteract hormonal wrinkles. A variety of over-the-counter products are also available that have been proven to fight wrinkles, so there's no reason for those who suffer from wrinkles to put up with them any longer.

Prevention of wrinkles is important, because wrinkles are much easier to prevent than they are to correct after they appear.

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