What causes your skin to age prematurely?

Aging is inevitable. Harsh though it may sound, that’s the reality. Our appearance will change over time. However, for a few, these changes would happen faster than usual. For instance, the skin would get duller, wrinkles and fine lines would start to appear while you are in your 20s or early 30s. This is called premature aging. 

In this post, we will understand the signs of premature aging, the different causes, and some tips to prevent it.

Key signs of premature aging

If you notice any of these signs before the age of 35, then you might be experiencing premature aging – 

Gaunt hands

If your hands begin to appear thin, veiny, and prone to wrinkles, then it is a sign of premature aging. The shape of our skin is determined by a structural protein called collagen. As we age, the top layer of the skin becomes thinner as the production of collagen reduces. Even though there is no specific age at which this happens, most normal people tend to notice their hands becoming thinner during the late 30s and early 40s.

Itchy or dry skin

Abnormally dry or itchy skin is also known as Xerosis Cutis. This is again attributed to the reduction of collagen in the skin. When the collagen reduces, skin starts getting thinner, making it more susceptible to dehydration. This leads to a dry and flaky sky. Regular people notice dryness and flakiness only when they are in their 40s.


Sunspots are also known as liver spots or age spots. These are flat spots that appear on the skin as a result of exposure to the sun for several years. These hyperpigmented spots can come in any part of the body, such as the face, forearms, or the back of your hand. Generally, age spots typically surface only when you hit 40. However, people with fair skin may notice age spots a little earlier too.

Inflammation along chest

Similar to sunspots, many people develop a patchy discoloration on their chest as they age. This is majorly caused due to damage to your skin cells as a result of long exposure to the sun. However, hyperpigmentation along the chest isn’t always connected to aging. It can even be caused due to eczema or other skin conditions that damage the melanin cells in the body. 


Collagen is what makes your skin bounce back and helps you look supple. So when collagen reduces, your skin starts appearing saggy, and wrinkles start appearing on the skin. These wrinkles tend to first appear around the muscles that you frequently use, such as lips and forehead.

What causes premature aging of the skin?

There are various behavioral and environmental factors that lead to premature aging of the skin. Here are they – 

Sun Exposure

Even though no lifeforms can survive without the sun, it is still the archnemesis of your skin. Constant exposure to the sun would inevitably speed up the aging process. This is because the sun’s UV rays will penetrate deep into the skin which would break down elastin and collagen. 


Very rare genetic conditions like Progeria cause premature skin aging. In this, the aging process starts at early puberty or even during childhood. Similarly, Werner Syndrome causes wrinkles, hair loss, and graying of hair in people aged between 13 to 30 years. This syndrome affects 1 in 1 million people. Another rare syndrome that affects babies to age quickly is called Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome. It affects 1 in 8 million babies. These babies grow very quickly and have thin limbs, and experience baldness. 


Research suggests that people who consume a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates in their diet can experience premature skin aging. 


When pollution from factories and vehicles comes in direct contact with our skin, the skin is exposed to the toxins present in it which can trigger pigmented spots and wrinkles in the skin.


Smoking is not only harmful to your heart, lungs, and brain, it can also accelerate premature aging. Smoking impacts our blood flow and harms the vessels that carry oxygen to our skin. This leads to wrinkles, dryness and impacts the overall skin health. 

Poor sleeping habits and stress

Sleep allows our body to regenerate and refresh the cells. Studies show that poor sleep quality can affect your skin and can damage the skin barrier that protects you from harmful UV rays.  Similarly, stress triggers various inflammatory responses in your body that also has an impact on skin health.


Consumption of alcohol excessively dehydrates the body, which over time will contribute to the development of saggy skin and wrinkles. 

Tips to prevent premature aging of the skin

  • Use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF on a daily basis. 
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat fruits like blueberries that are rich in antioxidants and help in reducing damage to cells.
  • Wear a hat and a mask to protect yourself from pollutants in the air
  • Quit alcohol and smoking
  • Get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.

Wrapping Up

As you have seen, there are numerous factors contributing to premature aging. Luckily, you can control most of these factors. Using sunscreen regularly, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep are a few steps you can take right away. However, if you have already started experiencing premature aging symptoms, it’s still not late. You can visit Dr. Renu’s clinic at HSR Layout, Bengaluru. We have treatments for most of the premature aging symptoms such as wrinkles, fine lines, sagginess, etc. Book an appointment with us now. 


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