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Aging Skin

Issue: Skin Conditions

Is there a Treatment for Skin Atrophy?

By Dr. Kristie

As a person gets older, so does their skin. When a person reaches a certain age – usually after the age of sixty they start showing signs of skin atrophy. Atrophic skin is a condition where the skin feels paper thin and is very dry and fragile. This type of skin bruises very easily and is prone to developing skin ulcers.

This is obviously of concern both from a cosmetic perspective – but even more so from a health perspective since it’s prone to bruising, bleeding, and ulceration. Is there any effective treatment for atrophic skin?

What Causes Skin Atrophy?

Atrophic skin is part of the natural aging process and may be, at least partially, determined by genetics. Some people start to develop early signs of skin atrophy as young as age forty – but by the age of eighty almost everyone has it to some degree. Skin atrophy happens when the layer of skin called the dermis decreases in size. This is the portion of the skin that produces collagen which gives skin its structure and suppleness.


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Without the benefit of collagen, the skin becomes thin, wrinkled, and prone to bleeding and bruising. The outermost layer of the skin called the epidermis also thins out when the skin becomes atrophic. A form of skin atrophy can also occur when topical steroid medications are used for prolonged periods of time.

Skin Atrophy Treatment: Does Anything Work?

Atrophic skin is tough to reverse and there have been few satisfactory treatments for this condition. One study showed that applying hyaluronate to atrophic skin could help to reverse some of these changes. When this was done in mice, it caused thickening of atrophic skin and an improvement in texture.

Another treatment that could hold some promise is the use of high strength retinoic acids such as those found in Retina-A. The problem is Retin-A causes significant skin irritation in many people which would be more pronounced in people with skin atrophy.



Skin Atrophy Treatment: The Bottom Line?

There isn’t a perfect skin atrophy treatment, but hyaluronate holds promise and Retina-A may have some benefit for people who can deal with the irritation. Although hyaluronate may be purchased online, the study showing its effectiveness was small and it’s best to wait until more research becomes available. If you have early signs of skin atrophy, talk to your dermatologist about these two potential treatment options.

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and masters in Clinical Pathology.

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Disclaimer: Articles not intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure or Prevent Diseases.

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