Healthy Aging: What To Do About Thinning Skin

Sudden incidents of bleeding or bruises that appear out of nowhere can be scary and distressing. Let's find ways to combat it!
Close-up of a senior female hand holding a younger female hand

One of the most common complaints around aging is the thinning of the skin. It can seem like the slightest knock or harmless bump causes disproportionate damage. When first encountered it can be a real shock and wake-up call.

Fortunately, there are viable measures that can be taken to limit these unfortunate injuries and keep your skin healthy as we ripen.

How Healthy Skin Works

Human skin is composed of many layers of tissue. In the middle is a layer called the "dermis," which makes up about 90 percent of the skin's thickness. Individuals may have different thicknesses of skin, but they all depend on collagen, a substance your body produces naturally to maintain plumpness and fullness.

As we age, our bodies produce less collagen. The result? The skin layer becomes thinner. Thinning skin can lead to variety of problems, such as easy tearing of the skin, more frequent bruising, bleeding from small bumps to the surface and extreme dryness of the skin.

What Causes Thinning Skin?

In addition to natural thinning due to aging, there are a few other contributing factors to consider. The first is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. The simple act of being outdoors can cause wrinkling, age spots and thinning of the skin.

Medications can also be a contributing factor. Topical or oral corticosteroids, prescription blood thinners, aspirin and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can cause thinning of the skin.

There’s also little one can do to hide from lifestyle habits in just about any facet of health. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and poor diet aren’t doing anybody any favors.

How To Protect Your Thinning Skin

Attractive older woman with suntan lotion in the shape of a heart on her arm

Although thinning of skin with aging can't be avoided entirely, there are measures that can be taken to ensure healthier skin that is more resistant to damage.

Manage the sun. Protect your skin from damaging ultraviolet rays by wearing a sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 rating whenever you spend time outdoors. It may “dry reading” but it’s also important to familiarize yourself with the recommendations for sun safety. Wearing long sleeves and pants not only adds additional layers of defense, it also can protect the skin against bumps. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics if you live in warm weather.

Put the right things in and on your body. Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water. Yes, we know, you’ve heard that before. Many experts recommend using an app to track the amount of water you imbibe on a daily basis. Keeping this record of water intake is informative and can also be highly motivating.

Challenge yourself to include fresh fruits and vegetables at each meal and for snacks. By increasing the amount of fresh produce, you may notice you’re less attracted to eating sugar treats or fat-filled foods. Fruits and vegetables are not only good for your skin, they are good for your heart and overall health.

Moisturize daily. The best time to moisturize is after bathing which will help to lock the moisturizer into skin cells more effectively. Talk to your doctor about using retinol A cream to provide better protection for your skin.

Medicate intelligently. It’s smart to check your over-the-counter medications to ensure they’re not contributing to thinning skin. Make certain to speak with your primary care doctor about all oral and topical medications. Also it’s worthwhile to consider nutritional supplements such as vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid and collagen peptides.

And let us not forget about the three standards all mothers teach – drink moderately, don’t smoke and exercise regularly.

Assistance Club Summary

Your daily choices can help you manage thinning skin. Take an active role in your diet, exercise, medications and sun exposure. With a little attention, you can protect your skin and keep it healthy while you age.