What is premature ageing, and how to stop it?

 What is premature ageing, and how to stop it?

We all strive to look good, as being presentable is one of the prerequisites in every spectre of our lives, whether in your workplace or when you are dating. But despite our best efforts, we cannot stop ageing because it is a biological process according in which our bodies go through various structural and functional changes. However, some people encounter these changes faster than others, known as premature ageing.

What is premature ageing?

The human body is full of telomeres, sections of DNA protein structures at the end of chromosomes. In addition, telomeres help preserve genetic information that enables us to look young and lively; some of them are lost when each cell divides, but an enzyme called telomerase helps replenish this. However, over time telomeres naturally decline with age and expose our DNA to gradual damage, eventually perishing away.

Medical professionals termed the process intrinsic ageing, sometimes also called chronological ageing. Also, the process is unique to each individual as it depends entirely on their genetics; but specific environmental and behavioural factors speed up the telomeres’ declining process. Consequently, the declining process makes our DNA prone to damage; hence it is called extrinsic ageing.

How does the skin gets affected during ageing?

When we age, the first noticeable changes occur on our skin; for example, we bruise easily, experience dry skin, and notice wrinkles in previously smooth places. However, all these changes can accelerate due to varied factors; first of all, you need to understand the basic structure of the skin.

The skin consists of three essential layers: the outer epidermis, the middle dermis and the inner subcutaneous fat layer. So, the epidermis is a thin layer that contains the pigment that colours your skin. The thicker dermis layer contains hair follicles, oil glands and blood vessels. Finally, the inner fatty layer serves as a protective barrier to your organs.

With ageing, the epidermis gradually becomes thin, and the pigment level decreases, due to which our skin also gets thinner and paler. Also, the lack of elasticity because of ageing, known as elastosis, makes our skin loose. On the other hand, the dermis, also home to blood vessels, becomes frail with ageing; the weakened blood vessels’ walls are vulnerable to bruising and bleeding.

Furthermore, sweat glands in the dermis lose functionality, making it more difficult for the skin to produce sweat to cool you down. In addition, the sebaceous glands, also known as oil glands, are responsible for keeping the skin moist and hydrated. But with time, the oil gland production decreases, making us more prone to dry and itchy skin.

Finally, the thicker subcutaneous fat gradually becomes thinner as we grow older, providing less protection against temperature and trauma. Therefore, you may find many older adults constantly battling colds and skin injuries.

Tips to avoid premature ageing

Our skin is bound to lose elasticity and become dry, prone to injury, and loses insulation as we age; we cannot stop the natural biological changes. However, you can maintain specific measures and take precautions to ensure the process does not speed up.

Limit the sun exposure

Limit the sun exposure

People love to bathe in the glorious sun; spread across the hammock, having a little tanning session might sound relaxing and fun. But unfortunately, the results are not as fun; months or years of sun exposure can speed up the ageing process without you noticing. Furthermore, although the sun provides us with Vitamin D, too much of it can lead to many problems.

The sun emits UVA and UVB radiation, which can cause many skin-related abnormalities, including wrinkles, ageing-related disorders, skin cancer, and diminished immunity to infection. Furthermore, UV radiation increases the number of moles in the sun-exposed parts of the body. Excessive sun exposure also leads to the development of premalignant lesions called actinic keratoses.

Many studies have reported that UV radiation causes collagen to break down higher than normal ageing. The collagen break happens when the UV rays penetrate the middle skin’s middle layer(dermis) and causes the elastin buildup. When these elastins accumulate, enzymes are produced, which inadvertently break down collagen and create so-called “solar scars.” Continued exposure only speeds the process, leading to further wrinkling and sagging.

Despite the several ill effects of being overexposed to the sun, we cannot avoid going out because of several tasks that we might need to carry out. Hence, one of the best ways to prevent harmful UV rays is to apply sunscreen (the greater the SPF, the better) before heading out. Also, if you are insistent on having a tan, then go for self-tanning; it is a much better option than sun tanning.

Manage stress

Stress is the cause of many illnesses in our bodies; it is relatively easy for someone to advise us to stress less; however, it is easier said than done. Especially when there are multiple aspects of our lives that we need to consider, stress becomes an unwelcoming part of our lives. But chronic stress limits the body’s telomerase supply, altering its ability to replenish the lost telomerase involved in cell division.

Also, cortisol, a hormone that allows our immune system to deal with stress, suppresses telomerase activation in the immune system cells. Therefore, causing premature ageing, causing wrinkles, dry skin, uneven skin tone and other changes.

Quit smoking

Quit smoking

If you smoke to relieve stress, consider finding another stress buster because smoking is a one-way ticket to many diseases. However, you must be aware of the health risks to the lungs, heart and brain because of cigarettes and other similar products. Also, it impacts the blood flow to the heart and brain, and it also harms the blood vessels responsible for carrying oxygen to the skin.

Therefore, if the skin does not get enough oxygen, it causes our skin to sag and wrinkle; similarly, smoking also damages hair follicles, making their hair thin or fall out.

Stop unhealthy food habits

Stop unhealthy food habits

People who cannot stop themselves from gorging on fast food and oily street food suffer indefinitely from a plethora of health issues. Additionally, unhealthy food habits cause unwanted weight gain, inflammation, poor digestion, etc. On the other hand, it also has severe harmful effects on the skin, such as acne breakout, making the skin prone to wrinkles and reduced elasticity.

Therefore, unhealthy food habits contribute to premature ageing, but to prevent such ill effects, eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Moreover, avoid eating too many sugary items, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats.


Avoiding drinking alcohol can be challenging if you have frequent night outs or social gatherings; however, consuming too much alcohol has adverse effects on one’s health. Apart from causing long term psychological and physical problems, alcohol hampers our skin, as it causes enlarged pores, dullness, dryness, loss of elasticity, etc.

So, if you cannot prevent drinking, limit your intake, which will ensure that you don’t develop alcohol dependence.



We buy hordes of expensive face creams, each for a specific purpose; one for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, another for clearing dark spots and dark circles. But seldom do we give importance to exercise, which is one of the most necessary steps to ensure good health and mind.

Exercising improves blood circulation and boosts immunity, keeping your skin healthy and youthful. In addition, it provides oxygen to your skin, and the blood flow carries away the waste products, including free radicals and toxins. So, include at least thirty to forty-five minutes of work out daily or four-five days a week.

Nivedita Nagpal

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