Collagen & Moisture in the Skin
Over time, skin loses its elasticity and decreases the amount of collagen it produces. At the same time, skin becomes thinner and is more prone to dryness. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the same cleansing routines that worked in your youth should be modified to adapt to changes that are common in aging skin. You can reduce collagen loss and increase moisture through a variety of remedies.
The benefits to dry, collagen-weakened skin from a daily bath or shower can significantly improve skin texture, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Water hydrates the skin and keeps it from becoming flaky and cracked. Warm, tepid water is more effective to treat dry skin than hot water, which can damage the top layer of skin. A short bathing routine that lasts five or 10 minutes also can provide considerable benefits versus longer bathing sessions that tend to dry out skin.
Moisturizers can significantly improve the level of collagen and fluid retained in the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, creams and ointments provide more effective moisture retention properties than lotions. Look for heavy creams that contain hyaluronic acid, an ingredient in the skin that diminishes with age. Other ingredients that can help seal in moisture include urea, dimethicone and glycerin.
Collagen is produced in the dermis, or second layer of skin, according to DermNet. Skin best responds to moisturizers and fluid enhancements that penetrate deeper than the epidermis or top layer. Oil-based creams and petroleum jelly trap moisture and allow it to penetrate the deeper layers of skin, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Environmental factors also can affect dry skin. Central heating, homes low in humidity and harsh chemicals erode the top layer of skin, exposing collagen and causing dryness.
Severe dry skin that develops deep in the dermis and hardens the collagen can be a sign of a serious disease called limited scleroderma, or CREST syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is an autoimmune disorder that causes the overproduction of collagen and leaves the skin thick, hardened and dry. Limited scleroderma can cause gastrointestinal problems and heart disease. Other complications include lung disorders, dental problems, ulcers and dry eyes and mouth.
A blood test or skin biopsy can help determine the likelihood that you've developed limited scleroderma, although the condition is difficult to diagnose, according to the Mayo Clinic. There is no cure for CREST syndrome, but symptoms should be managed to prevent serious complications. Immune system-suppressing drugs and medication to lower blood pressure can relieve some symptoms. Learning to live with the increased dry skin and collagen production often requires physical therapy and other physical adaptations. Calcium deposits that develop on the skin can be removed.
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