While wrinkles are a sign of wisdom or maturity, it is not surprising that newborn infants have them. Most people are concerned that wrinkles can be associated with aging. In our current “pop” culture, people do not view aging positively. The treatment of normal skin aging without causing a functional abnormality, is generally called “cosmetic.” The majority of cosmetic procedures are not covered under health insurance.
Many procedures and products claim to reduce wrinkles. Some products do very little (like those that claim to reduce “the appearance fine lines,” but they don’t actually reduce them). Some people have some success.
While all skin ages, the speed at which it ages is dramatically affected by sun exposure. Photoaging can cause skin changes such as dry skin, roughness, sagginess and skin growths such as keratoses (“liver spots”) and wrinkles. Compare the skin on the neck and face of a farmer with the skin on his buttocks.
What Causes Wrinkles?
These are some of the factors that encourage wrinkles:
- Natural skin pigmentation: more is better
- UV and sun exposure
Some families have more wrinkles due to their heredity. Subcutaneous fat is the amount of fat that is removed from a person’s body. People with more subcutaneous fat have less wrinkles. These factors may not be within our control. We can only take preventive steps to reduce sun exposure and avoid smoking. These measures will, at best, delay wrinkles.
SPF numbers on sunscreen labels indicate protection against UVB radiation, also known as the “sunburn rays”. Lower numbers, such as 50, are more effective at protecting skin. Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide protection against UVB radiation (longer-wave UV light) and UVA radiation. UVA rays, which are plentiful in sunlight and caused by tanning salon light bulb ultraviolet (longer-wave UV light) can cause sunburn. However, they can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. There is no “safe tan”. Sunscreens that block UVA are labeled with ingredients like Parsol, Mexoryl and benzophenones.
Fine wrinkling can be treated with medical treatments:
- Vitamin A acid (tretinoin [Retin A], Renova]: This ingredient is available only by prescription. It has the longest track record in terms of treating fine lines and aging skin. Creams containing tretinoin must be used on a regular basis. You may experience reddening and peeling initially. However, you can reduce discomfort by decreasing the cream’s concentration or using it less frequently until your skin becomes used to it.
- Alpha-hydroxy acids: These “fruit acids” are glycolic acid and lactic acid. These fruit acids are safe and do not cause any irritation other than mild, temporary discomfort. However, they do not produce any noticeable improvement.
- Antioxidants are products that contain vitamin A and vitamin C as well as vitamin E. These creams are not known to make a significant cosmetic difference.
- Ordinary moisturizers. Creams without the above ingredients can only moisturize the skin temporarily (“reduce the appearance fine lines”)