Aging Skin, Hair Loss, and Treatment
As we get older – or more mature and wise – there seems to be two noticeable dermatologic changes that seem to affect us all. Our skin begins to age, and we start to experience hair loss or thinning hair. Why do some notice these changes faster than others? How does that high school friend seem to still look young at your 30-year high school reunion?
Our skin is at the mercy of several forces as we age: sun, harsh weather, and bad habits.
Aging skin is an accumulation of sun exposure we had over our lifetimes. Ultraviolet light (UV-A, and UV-B) is emitted from the sun and damages our skin cells. Over time, exposure to excessive ultraviolet light may start to cause brown discoloration on the skin, wrinkling, and loss of elasticity. Wrinkling and loss of elasticity are the result of a lack of collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin act as the frame-work for your skin and give it lift and bounce. Our bodies unfortunately slow down the production of these two important skin components in your early to mid 20’s. Sun exposure can hasten this process and sometimes cause skin to have accelerated aging.
There are two bad habits that can significantly accelerate skin aging: smoking and tanning bed use. Smoking releases carcinogens and free radical oxygen species into your skin cells. These substances over time cause tissue destruction and will hasten the appearance of wrinkles. Smoking also constricts blood flow and can prevent the skin from getting the much-needed nutrients needed for healthy growth. Tanning beds increase your risk of developing melanoma by 75%, which is why we recommend air-brushed spray tans.
The FDA has reported that ultraviolet radiation in tanning devices poses serious health risks. A 2009 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, concluded that tanning devices are more dangerous than previously thought. Exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds, can cause skin cancer, skin burns, premature skin aging, and eye damage
There are several things that you can do to prevent premature skin aging. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater used daily to sun exposed areas is essential. This is the best way to not only slow down skin aging, but to also protect from future skin cancers. Be sure to reapply through the day, every 2-3 hours. We have several options in our online store, like EltaMD. Clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) can be used to protect from the sun as well.
There are several ways to help reverse aging skin as well. Examples include chemical peels, topical product, laser resurfacing, filler, and neuromodulators. If you are looking into these options, it is important to consult with a dermatology provider or medical aesthetician to get the best personalized treatment and results.
Hair loss and hair thinning are very common and can be the cause of significant stress for many people as they age. Hair loss can be related to age, autoimmune conditions, thyroid conditions, medications and iron deficiency among others. Although men suffer from much higher rates of hair loss, it can affect women as well.
The most important part of treating hair loss is to understand why it is happening. Before starting a hair loss regimen, it is best to seek good counsel from a dermatology provider. Some hair loss can be caused by medications or systemic disease like thyroid or iron problems. Medical providers can help to identify the cause. Hair loss can be diagnosed based on physical exam, but there may be blood work or biopsies (tissue samples) needed to properly diagnose the cause.
The most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia. This form of hair loss is caused by metabolites (breakdown products) from testosterone. It can cause hair loss in men and women. It often shows up as a receding hairline, thinning at the crown, or widening parts on your scalp. There are many options to combat androgenetic alopecia including over-the-counter products like biotin shampoos, oral supplements, minoxidil, and at home laser units. Medical grade options include finasteride (Propecia), platelet rich plasma injections (PRP), spironolactone, and hair transplants. Each treatment option comes along with its own risks and benefits. PRP Hair Restoration involves a simple blood draw and spin in the Eclipse centrifuge allows us to collect the highest concentration of platelet-rich plasma. We then inject the PRP into the scalp to stimulate hair growth in the area of concern. A medical provider can help to guide you in selecting the best options for your specific situation.
As with any health issue, seeking the personalized opinion of an expert is always a prudent idea. If you connect with one of these topics or have a dermatology concern, Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, PLLC would be humbled to be a part of your skin health journey.
My name is Ryan Crowder and have worked at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, PLLC for over six years. I received my Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry from Purdue University and graduated from the Physician Assistant Program at Harding University. It is my greatest honor to serve the dermatologic medical needs of Northwest Arkansas.