Aging is a natural process that is inevitable and the most we can do is embrace it. However, when the signs of it start to show too early, it could be something to worry about.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 20, 2020. It has since been updated.
When it comes to our health, we often forget to take care of it or are unaware of the changes that are happening as they might be small. In that time, we fail to notice our body giving us hints that maybe we're aging a little faster than we should. And it shows in these five ways which are signs of premature aging. But first, we need to understand what the concept is.
According to the World Health Organization, "At the biological level, ageing results from the impact of the accumulation of a wide variety of molecular and cellular damage over time." Physically, you might see these as wrinkles, spots, visible veins, fatigue, and more, which are just a normal part of the aging process and usually start at around 35-40 years of age. It's an inevitable change. However, when these symptoms start to appear much before 35, it could be a sign of premature aging.
As you get older, the production of collagen, which is a protein that gives your skin the ability to stay moisturized and plump, starts to slow down. As a result, you might find yourself seeing more wrinkles in your skin, especially around muscles that you use the most like your forehead and it's nothing to worry about. "Most women will start to notice signs of aging on their faces at around the age of 40," says dermatologist Dr. Robin Evans to Bustle. "If one has gotten a lot of sun exposure, those changes may be more visible in the early to mid 30s."
Those slightly browner, flat spots on your face are called sunspots, also known as age spots and liver spots. It's caused by years of sun exposure and those who are fairer, start to see these spots earlier. They can also appear on the back of your hands or on your forearms. "Brown spots, age spots, sun spots or liver spots normally appear on exposed areas of skin and can be caused by too much sun exposure and the normal process of aging," says dermatologist Dr Seth Forman. "You can also partly blame it on genetics, stress, and vitamin deficiencies."
“As our skin ages, its ability to turn over, make all the good proteins and fats that solidify the top layer (stratum corneum) and keep moisture in diminishes, and accelerated skin aging from unprotected sun exposure will accelerate this,” Dr Adam Friedman, Professor and Interim Chair of Dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Science in Washington, DC, says according to The Healthy. However, the environment can play a role as well. “Environment can also play a role – dry cold temperatures, low humidity, and radiator heat create the perfect storm for dry skin,” he says. So constant exposure to these conditions could accelerate aging.
Hair loss that isn't happening just on your head could be a sign of premature aging. If you notice that hair on your arms, legs, and genitals are also reducing, it could mean that you're aging prematurely. Additionally, you'll find more gray hair although, that can also be caused by excessive use of hair chemicals. If you find clumps of hair from your head coming off, visit a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis.
As time passes and you start to face birthdays with larger numbers, your hands also start to show the effect of aging. The effect of the sun on your hands can affect your skin. "This constant UV exposure can damage the skin’s elastin, which leads to wrinkles, sagginess and the discoloration on your hands," says Dr Seth Forman. "As we get older, the delicate skin of the hands thins out, causing veins to appear more prominent."
Though you may not know the cause for this premature aging, here are some factors that could lead to it:
- excessive sun exposure and tanning
- genetics (although this is a rare cause, according to Healthline)
- poor sleep quality and quantity
- diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates
- excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
- stress which can cause inflammatory reactions
- environmental pollutants
While these are simple signs of premature aging, if you have any underlying conditions or see other symptoms that accompany this, it's best to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.