Steps can be taken to make wrinkles less noticeable
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I'm a 42-year-old woman, and lately I've
noticed more wrinkles starting to show on my face. Ads for "amazing"
anti-wrinkle potions are everywhere. Is there anything that will really work to
lessen the wrinkles I have and prevent new ones from appearing?
ANSWER: Wrinkles are a normal part of aging. Although you
can't eliminate wrinkles completely, you can take steps to make them less
Two big risk factors for developing wrinkles are aging and ultraviolet light.
You cannot control the aging process, but you can reduce your exposure to
ultraviolent light. The best thing you can do for your skin is to habitually use
sunscreen on all exposed body parts. On days you're not out in the sun for long
periods, use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. When you
spend time outdoors on a sunny day, use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50.
Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing wrinkles, in addition to
being bad for your health in many other dangerous ways. Smoking has by-products
that break down the collagen and elastin that help support the tissue in your
skin. That can speed up the aging process and make your skin more wrinkled. If
you are worried about how your skin looks and you smoke, you should stop.
Another key step to reducing wrinkles is to keep your skin well moisturized.
Dry skin creates wrinkles. Use a high-quality moisturizer on your skin twice a
day, once in the morning and once at night before you go to bed.
Picking a good moisturizer can be challenging because there are so many
choices. Keep it simple. Avoid lotions that contain perfume, dye or glitter, or
that have a lot of preservatives, as these can irritate your skin. A higher
price is not always a sign of higher quality. Most basic ingredients in
moisturizing lotions are the same across brands. If you're buying a moisturizer
for your face, get a product designed for that purpose. A body moisturizer
usually will not work well on facial skin. Finally, buy one that has SPF
included, so you don't have to apply sunscreen in addition to your moisturizer.
Anti-wrinkle creams that are available without a prescription usually have
only a modest effect on wrinkles. If you try one, make sure it contains vitamins
C and E. These ingredients may help reduce wrinkles somewhat, but they depend on
one another to work. If a cream has only one, it won't be as effective.
If you want an anti-wrinkle cream that has been shown to reduce wrinkles and
prevent new ones, you will need to see your doctor. Prescription anti-wrinkle
creams derived from vitamin A, called retinoids, can reduce fine wrinkles,
splotchy pigmentation and skin roughness. In addition to creams and lotions,
some procedures may help reduce wrinkles. They include chemical peels,
dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, botulinum toxin type A (Botox) and soft tissue
fillers. None is a permanent solution for wrinkles, and all have potential side
effects. If you're interested in one of these procedures, talk to your primary
care doctor or a dermatologist to discuss what is right for you.
Keep in mind that the three most important things all people - old and young,
men and women - can do for their skin to decrease the signs of aging are to
moisturize frequently, wear sunscreen and, please, don't smoke. - Dawn
Davis, M.D., Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
( Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn't
replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to
write: Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic, c/o TMS, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114,
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