We all are aware that stress affects our skin in various forms. Whether it is forehead lines to breakouts, stress shows its effect on the skin. One of the major problems that happen as a result of stress is premature ageing. Various internal and external factors can kickstart the process of inflammation that accelerates ageing process.
Inflammation is a natural body mechanism to protect itself from infections and injuries. But when it starts occurring in a loop it can cause damages that affect skin cells and accelerate the ageing process.
Inflammation is Majorly Divided into Two Types
- Acute inflammation
It is marked as the body’s quick response to any negative stimuli and has rapid onset which lasts only a few days. Like a bump in the knee which leads to immediate pain and swelling and slowly it normalizes.
- Chronic inflammation
This, on the other hand, does not quit and is a result of an unhealthy lifestyle and environmental stress. In this condition, the cycle of inflammation lingers and goes undetected for a longer duration. Like pollution caused stress and skin problems. When our skin is exposed to pollution on a daily basis it does not get enough opportunities to repair itself completely and is in a constant state of inflammation for a longer duration.
Modern lifestyle has got multiple causes of this chronic inflammation around them ranging from UV damage, pollution, disturbed sleep patterns, and poor dietary choices. When we age our body’s capability to fight this chronic inflammation reduces and hence, leads to the damage of skin cells.
Inflammaging basically means premature ageing caused by inflammation. It is a single term used to explain ageing induced by persistent inflammation that exhausts the skin’s defence mechanism. This causes weakening of the skin’s basic structure leading to degradation of elastin and collagen of skin which are important to maintain basic skin structure.
How Does Inflammaging Occur?
External stressors like pollution, weather change, chemicals and internal stressors caused by sleep patterns and poor lifestyle initiate a key enzyme of skin called COX-2. This enzyme can be considered as an alarm system that identifies the threat and starts up an inflammatory response. In normal or acute cases when the threat subsides the alarm goes off but if the threat persists then the alarm stays on constantly and skin is in a constant state of low-grade inflammation that keeps damaging skin cells continuously.
Effects of Inflammaging
Hyaluronic acid present in skin cells is responsible for capturing and retaining the water content in tissues, keeping them well lubricated. It helps in keeping skin hydrated and healthy. As we age, hyaluronic acid naturally depletes and chronic inflammation accelerates the process due to increased production of the enzyme that causes the break down hyaluronic acid. Thus, water content reduces in skin cells leading to dehydration. Skin starts becoming dull and texture degrades ultimately causing fine lines and wrinkles.
Collagen and Elastin Degradation
Fibroblast is an important cell that is found in the skin’s connective tissue and is responsible for the production of collagen and elastin. Fibroblast gives skin density and elasticity. Chronic inflammation sets off a set of MMP (Metalloproteinases) in the skin which are found in spaces between skin cells and are responsible for breaking down collagen and elastin at a faster rate and also inhibit their further production. When the degradation rate increases due to continuous inflammation and skin fibroblast can’t catch up the pace the skin loses its elasticity and firmness due to its inability to repair and replace broken collagen and elastin.
Skin gets its shape and volume from the fat cells underneath it. During a young age, we generally have plenty of them but they start depleting over the period of time. Inflammaging increases glycation. This sugar content of blood gloms onto fats and proteins and leads to excessive free radical production. These AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) get accumulated to damage the cells around them and cause ageing. These can attack fat cells and make the skin look flat, sunken and aged sooner.
Tips to Reduce Inflammaging
A healthy lifestyle can always help to achieve this along with the right skincare regimen. Here are some tips that can be kept in mind:
Minimize the triggering factors
Skin detox is the best way to do this. Detoxification of skin helps clear all the inflammation-causing impurities and environmental irritants. Detoxification of skin encourages collagen production by increasing cell turnover and improving skin cell barrier.
Protect Collagen and Elastin
These two play an essential role in keeping skin plump and firmer. Antioxidant-rich serums and creams help in minimizing inflammation and also neutralise free radicals that can attack collagen and elastin. Consult a dermatologist and get a proper skincare regimen with right sunscreen and serums that help protect collagen and elastin.
Repair Skin Barrier
Dehydration can be one of the causes for premature ageing. Hydrating the skin properly is a key to counter the effects of inflammaging. Hyaluronic acid has the ability to rehydrate and keep up the moisture content of the skin. Skincare serums containing high levels of polysaccharides and super humectants help draw moisture deeper into the skin and provide more potent hydration.
Inflammaging is a common issue that we all might be facing but with these simple prevention steps we can combat this issue.