Skin Sins: Biological Ageing
The biological ageing process is not taking place in the top layers of the skin (the stratum corneum or epidermis) but rather in the lower layer known as the Dermis. The slow loss of dermal mass that naturally occurs with age, results in loss of elasticity and thickness. Muscle mass and skin firmness also decreases with age. Other biological ageing processes appear in the epidermis shown with conditions like pigmentation and keratosis.
The Biological Clock
Most cells regenerate themselves by dividing to form a pair of new cells. Telomeres are small segments of DNA which coat the tips of chromosomes in the DNA and stop them from unravelling. All cells eventually reach a limit beyond which they cannot continue to divide and reach what is known as ‘senescence’ and die. This shortening of our telomeres appears to be the cellular clock that determines the number of times our cells divide which, in turn, appears to control the aging of our cells.
In order for cells to work they speak through cell to cell communication and biochemical interactions. Changes associated with biological aging are the result of a gradual shift in the balance of certain hormones and messenger molecules emitted by other glands and organs within the body. Intrinsic ageing is mainly determined on genes and DNA. This type of ageing can’t be repaired but can be stopped to a degree and slowed down.
Fortunately for us, some of the factors contributing to biological aging can be controlled. Scientists understand what outside contributions speed up this process and are therefore beginning to understand how free radicals (unstable molecules) damage proteins, lipids, and the DNA within cells, and, in turn, accelerate the biological aging process.