Internal factors affecting the skin

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The natural process of ageing naturally affects the skin, as cell regeneration starts to decrease with age (see chart on page 55 for information on the effects of ageing).

Free radicals

These also contribute to skin ageing. Free radicals are parts of molecules (e.g. oxygen molecules) that are found in the body. As a result of external factors, like ultraviolet radiation, nicotine or unhealthy food, the free radicals become prone to react. This means that they are constantly looking for other chemical substances to bond with. Hence, they attack the collagen fibres, cellular membrane and lipid layer of the skin. Free radicals change the inherited properties stored in the cell nucleus, so that the quality of newly formed skin cells deteriorates.

Stress and lifestyle

When the body is subjected to regular stress and tension it can cause sensitivity and allergies in the skin as well as encourage the formation of lines around the eyes and the mouth.

Hormones

The natural glandular changes of the body have an effect on the condition of the skin throughout life. During puberty, the sex hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, which may cause some imbalance in the skin.

At the onset of menstruation the skin may erupt due to the adjustment of hormone levels at that time. During pregnancy, pigmentation changes may occur, but usually disappear after birth. During the menopause the activity of the sebaceous glands is reduced and the skin becomes drier.

Smoking

The effects of smoking have been linked to premature ageing and wrinkling of the skin. Nicotine weakens the blood vessels which supply blood to the tissues; this deprives the tissues of essential oxygen and therefore the skin may appear dull and grey in colour.

Smoking affects the skin's cells and destroys vitamins B and C, which are important for healthy skin. Smoking dulls the skin by polluting the pores and increases the formation of lines around the eyes and the mouth.

Medication

Medication can affect the skin by causing dehydration, or sensitivity and/or allergies.

Diet

A healthy body is needed for a healthy skin. The skin can be thought of as a barometer of the body's general health.

• Vitamin A: helps repair the body's tissues and helps prevent dryness and ageing.

• Vitamin B: helps improve the circulation and the skin's colour and is essential to cellular oxidation.

• Vitamin C: is essential for healing and to maintain levels of collagen in the skin.

• Vitamin E: helps to heal damaged tissues and can help heal structural damage to the skin.

Water consumption

The skin is approximately 70 per cent water. Drinking an adequate amount of water (approximately 6-8 glasses per day) aids the digestive system and helps to prevent a build-up of toxicity in the skin's tissues.

Alcohol

Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the skin by drawing essential water from the tissues. Excess consumption causes the blood vessels in the skin to dilate, resulting in a flushed appearance.

Exercise

Regular exercise promotes good circulation, increased oxygen intake and blood flow to the skin.

Sleep

Sleep is essential to physical and emotional well-being and is one of the most effective regenerators for the skin.

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    WHAT ARE THE FACTORS AFFECTING ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY?
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