Common skin changes that appear gradually as you age include age spots, freckles, discolored blotches, wrinkles, sallowness, roughness, very dry skin and leathery toughness. Some people develop scaly patches, skin tags, or bright red or purple raised bumps (cherry angiomas), which might be bothersome but are usually harmless.
Some skin changes, such as fine wrinkles from sun damage, may be reversed by treatment with retinoic acid. This treatment can also improve your skin's texture, reduce discoloration and increase collagen. Other effects of aging aren't reversible. But they may be treatable. For example, you may choose to have a rough patch or skin tag removed for cosmetic reasons. Or you could talk with your doctor about procedures for smoothing wrinkles and improving the appearance of your skin.
You can also prevent or slow further changes by having good sun protection habits and by quitting smoking if you're a smoker.
Some skin changes may be early signs of skin cancer. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to have them removed or checked regularly.
March 20, 2021
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- Litin SC, et al., eds. Skin, hair and nails. In: Family Health Book. 5th ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
- Seborrheic keratosis. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/bumps-and-growths/seborrheic-keratoses. Accessed Feb. 14, 2019.
- What causes our skin to age? American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/anti-aging-skin-care/causes-of-aging-skin. Accessed Feb. 14, 2019.
- Skin care and aging. National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/skin-care-and-aging. Accessed Feb. 14, 2019.