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Dry Aged Thickened Skin

Most of the outward signs of aging are a result of sun exposure that occurs before the age of 20. It can take 10 to 40 years for the damage (dry skin, coarse texture, fine lines and wrinkles) to gradually and progressively manifest itself. Of course, continued sun exposure only compounds the damage.

How does sun exposure result in visible signs of aging? Sun exposure and its effect on skin aging can be divided into 2 main categories: the effects on the epidermis (outer layer) and the effects on the dermis (the deeper, living layer containing collagen, elastin and blood supply).

First, the top layer of the epidermis (stratum corneum) is made up of dead cells. Generally before the age of 25, these cells lay in an organized fashion much like shingles on a roof. The skin appears moist, translucent, smooth and fine in texture. In the late 20’s and early 30’s, the subtle signs of photoaging slowly appear. Perhaps the skin feels dry and lacks luster; fine lines appear, and frequently the texture of the skin looses its smooth and soft appearance. Although the changes are subtle, there is a definite and distinct difference in the overall appearance of the skin. Essentially what has happened is something called “corneycyte cohesions” which is stratum corneum adherence to the surface of the epidermis. The rate at which these cells normally slough off is greatly diminished, and the result is skin that appears progressively thick, more dry and less youthful, i.e., the exfoliation rate diminishes. Glycolic acid is dramatically effective because of its ability to dissolve or dislodge the “glue” that causes corneycyte adhesion and results in abnormal keratinization. When this “glue” is dissolved, the process of cellular sloughing is greatly accelerated, i.e., the exfoliation rate increases. That is why a skin care regimen using physician’s strength glycolic acid products, glycolic acid mini peels and microdermabrasion are so effective: when the stratum corneum is removed and new cell production is stimulated, the skin regains its youthful texture, moistness and smoothness.

The second category affected by sun damage is the dermis, made up of collagen and elastin. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays penetrate directly into the dermis much like an X-Ray. The sun’s rays literally destroy collagen and elastin and also damage the cells ability to reproduce themselves in a healthy fashion. Eventually, this destruction in the dermis results in a distortion where collagen and elastin have been destroyed. We perceive this distortion as an actual deep wrinkle, as opposed to superficial lines or textural changes in the epidermis. This is why physicians insist on the daily use of sun block, in order to protect the skin from the aging effects of sun exposure, and especially, to prevent skin cancer. There are three important points to look for in selecting a good sunblock: 1) It should provide “broad spectrum” coverage, i.e., it should be both UVA and UVB protective. 2) It should have an SPF of 15-30, anything greater than 30 typically has more chemicals and may cause more irritation, and a higher SPF does not provide significantly greater coverage. 3) It should be waterproof; this is more likely to provide longer lasting protection.

Moisturizers are only surface conditioners that merely coat the skin and soften and smooth the dead cells temporarily, making the skin only appear moist and soft. Moisturizers may temporarily slow the evaporation of water from the surface of the skin by providing an occlusive seal. A moisturizer cannot reverse dry skin or the signs of aging, only exfoliating agents such as glycolic acid can achieve this result!

For these reasons, the combination of a physician strength glycolic acid product and sun block used on a daily basis are prudent and effective methods to preserve the health and beauty of your skin. Glycolic acid dramatically affects the appearance of dry aged thickened skin, fine lines, overall texture, smoothness and hydration to maintain a youthful appearance and will prevent further skin thickening or appearance of lack of moisture with continued use.

The glycolic acid product line Dr. Rasmussen prefers has a significantly higher concentration than any “over the counter” glycolic acid product, and there by attains significantly better results. In addition,
Dr. Rasmussen’s glycolic acid product line is considerably more affordable than those purchased at the cosmetic counter. Twice daily use is recommended. She also offers two uniquely “cosmetically elegant” sunblocks that not only provide broad spectrum coverage, but are also waterproof.