Regain Your Youth
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An estimated 38 million Europeans born between 1948 and 1962 or "baby boomers" are approaching middle age, where younger more supple looking skin is only a memory. Unfortunately, American culture practically worships a youthful appearance. Stand in line in any check out counter and you will be reminded of the American quest for youthful skin as the beautiful models stare back at you.
This quest for the fountain of youth is not just popular in the Europe, women from around the globe are constantly searching for new products that will decrease the aging process.
Aging of the skin occurs in two ways intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging. Intrinsic (coming from the inside) aging is a continual, natural process that begins in the deep layers of your skin early in life. The rate at which intrinsic aging proceeds is controlled primarily by genetic factors.
Genetically programmed chronologic aging causes biochemical changes in collagen and elastin, the connective tissues that give skin its firmness and elasticity. The genetic program for each person is different, so the loss of skin firmness and elasticity occurs at different rates and different times in one individual as compared with another. Intrinsic aging is also affected by changes in an individual's chemistry over time, as well as changes in the skin's life cycle. The effects of intrinsic aging alone are usually subtle including primarily skin laxity or looseness and fine wrinkling.
Superimpose the subtle changes from intrinsic factors with the more profound extrinsic factors primarily photo damage (skin damage caused primarily by chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and the skin begins to show its age.
Cigarette smoking also contributes to aging effects by the biochemical changes it brings about in skin tissues. Chemicals inhaled from cigarette smoke constrict tiny blood vessels in the skin, reducing the oxygen and nutrient supply to delicate facial tissues. Blood-vessel constriction lasts at least an hour after a cigarette has been snuffed out. Over many years of smoking, the oxygen and nutrient deficiencies cause skin to wrinkle prematurely and lose elasticity (the ability to "bounce back" after being stretched). It is not unusual for the skin of longtime smokers to exhibit a grayish pallor.
Extrinsic or photo damage is a cumulative process that takes place gradually over decades exhibiting very little early clinical evidence. Photo damage begins with a child's first exposure to sunlight and accumulates throughout life with each additional exposure. There is often a 20-30 year delay between sun exposure and the negative effects appear later in life. This attributes to our failure to avoid the harmful photo damage, although the damage is largely preventable. Some eighty-five percent of what individuals presume as aging is actually secondary to exposure to the sun.
Most people have little understanding of how important prevention can be in delaying the signs of aging," explains Patricia Farris, M.D., a dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor, Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology. "They persist in sunbathing with little or no protection and begin a protective regimen only after photodamage has become apparent. When it comes to treatment, they are confused by cosmetic counter promises of younger, healthier-looking skin."
Visible Signs of Photo damage
Erythema (inflammation), sunburn and tanning are acute reactions that occur within hours and days of exposure. Chronic photoaging occurs over many years of UVR exposure and is characterized by mottled hyper pigmentation (i.e. uneven discoloration, brown spots), skin roughness fine and coarse wrinkling, shallowness, looseness of the skin, freckles and telangiectasia (a visible network of enlarged and broken superficial blood vessels). The severity of these signs tends to increase with the cumulative amount of sun exposure.
The effects of ectrinsic factors are evident in the following pictures of two women both 72 years of age. The women on the left was subject to photodamage throughout the course of her life while the woman on the right skin was protected:
Skin damage secondary to photo damage can be reduced by adopting a comprehensive program of skin care including the following:
In addition to the primarily common sense methods of avoiding excess UV light mentioned above there are several promising products that can help reverse some of the signs of aging skin.
As a first line of defense the topical medicaments are best suited.. The most popular topical medication used by Dermotologist( doctors that specialize in skin care) is Tretinoin 0.05% cream, marketed as Renova®.
The active ingredient in Renova is Tretinoin reformulated in a moisturizing cream. Tretinoin is potent chemical derived from Vitamin A, it smoothes fine lines by acting on the cells of the dermas, the lower layer of the skin. When damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays, the dermis tends to shrink which results in the outer layer to wrinkle.
Renova (tretinoin emollient cream 0.05%) contains the same active ingredient as Retin-A. While Retin-A is formulated for acne-prone skin, Renova is a rich emollient cream developed specifically for treating wrinkle and fine lines, surface roughness, brown spots, surface roughness and stretch marks. Most non prescription skin care products only act as dermal exfoliators, simply removing surface skin and allowing underlying tissue to rise to the surface. Renova does not promote exfoliation. The medication works at the cellular level to modify gene expression, subsequent protein synthesis, surface skin growth and differentiation.
The importance of the chronic use of sunscreen cannot be over emphasized. Sunscreens can be divided into two categories the physical and chemical sunscreens. The physical sunscreens have the active ingredients which include Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, which are insoluble, inorganic compounds. These work by both absorbing and scattering UV radiation.
Chemical sunscreens contain the active ingredients Octyl Salicylate and Octyl Methoxycinnamate the exert their mechanism of action by primarily only absorbing UVB and thus converting it into heat. Some broad-spectrum products may incorporate a mix of both physical and chemical sunscreens.
While most sunscreens are capable of blocking UVB, not all are capable protect against UVA exposure. Photoaging is know to occur secondary to chronic exposure of UVA. Some 90% of the visible changes we associate with aging are actually the result of sun exposure. Protect yourself only use sunscreens that are capable of blocking both UVA and UVB, with SPF value of 15 and above.
Glycolic acid is another rejuvenating agent frequently used by Dermatologists and Cosmetic Surgeons. Currently, Glycolic acids can be used for problems such as acne, photo aging and superficial scar correction. Glycolic acid can be found in a variety of strengths. In low concentration (5-20%), glycolics can be used safely by the patient at home on a daily basis. In higher concentrations performed by physicians glycolic acid peels make an excellent facial rejuvenating agent.
Vitamin C and E are two of the strongest antioxidants found in the skin. They serve to neutralize free oxy radicals that are formed under the influence of UV radiation. UVA can also generate free oxy radicals, which are reactive oxygen bound molecules capable of causing DNA and genetic material damage. Alterations to DNA genetic material in skin cells is a precursor to cancer. In addition, these free oxy radicals can also destroy elastic and collagen fibers resulting in a premature aging process. Gradually, as the skin loses its elasticity and texture, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging of the skin appear. The use of topical antioxidants in the management of photo aging can have a profound affect on decreasing the aging process. Vitamin C is also necessary for the formation of collagen in the dermis of the skin.
Individuals can integrate antioxidant treatment such as L-ascorbic acid with the other treatment modalities i.e. glycolic acid and Tretinoin (Renova). These agents do not have to be mutually exclusive, and results may improve with the synergistic use of these modalities. Individuals may initially complain of irritation, and if problematic the frequency of use may be decreased. With increasing tolerance to the L-ascorbic acid the frequency of use may be increased.
Direct sunlight accelerates the evaporation of moisture from the skin surface. Moisturizers serve to hydrate the skin by providing an occlusive film that traps water on the surface of the skin. When the skin is adequately hydrated, the tendency for fine lines to appear is reduced.
Anti-Aging Skin Care Conclusions