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Skin Aging Changes
With aging, the outer skin layer (epidermis) thins, even though the number of cell layers remains unchanged. The number of pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) decreases. The remaining melanocytes increase in size. Aging skin looks thinner, paler, and clear (translucent). Large pigmented spots, including age spots, liver spots, or lentigos, may appear in sun-exposed areas. Changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin's strength and elasticity. This is known as elastosis. It is more noticeable in sun-exposed areas (solar elastosis). Elastosis produces the leathery, weather-beaten appearance common to farmers, sailors, and others who spend a large amount of time outdoors. The blood vessels of the dermis become more fragile. This leads to bruising, bleeding under the skin (often called senile purpura), cherry angiomas, and similar conditions. Sebaceous glands produce less oil as you age. Men experience a minimal decrease, most often after the age of 80. Women gradually produce less oil beginning after menopause. This can make it harder to keep the skin moist, resulting in dryness and itchiness.