Skin and Aging

Rony A. François
What can your skin tell you about how you are aging? The DNA of every cell in your body contains an expiration date—sort of. The ends of each DNA molecule contain telomeres, or protective areas which shrink over time until they disappear and the DNA has no protection at all, and can no longer keep the cell alive.1 Telomeres can be thought of in the same manner as a lit fuse: the fuse length shortens over time, until after a certain amount of time the fuse will be used up, and can no longer delay the flame from causing damage to the explosive. This process of shrinking telomeres is part of the aging process, and occurs in skin cells as well.2

So how much time do we have? Everyone probably has a different telomere length, but how much time we have is mainly determined by how quickly or slowly we age. Just like a carton of milk, certain things can increase or decrease the “shelf life” of our cells and make them age faster. Harmful activities such as smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, and excessive sun exposure are just a few things which can make us age faster. Each of these carcinogens causes damage to the DNA in our skin cells and other cells in our body, and can potentially lead to cancer.3 By avoiding carcinogens, accelerated aging can also be avoided.4

What are the first signs of aging skin? Many people think of wrinkles as one of the first signs of skin aging, but this is often a later sign. Early signs include increased dryness, decreased skin elasticity, delayed wound healing, and the development of fine lines.5 In youth our sweat glands in our skin keep the skin well moisturized and protected with our own natural lipids. Later in life, these glands decrease in their productivity, with chronically dry and itchy skin as the primary manifestation. Severe scratching and the resulting chronic irritation can result in actinic purpura, a type of skin bruising which can get worse over time. Wrinkles are often a later sign, caused by sun damage to the collagen that sits just beneath the skin. This collagen is what gives elasticity and tautness to our skin. Over time with cumulative damage, the collagen gradually becomes weaker and less taut.

How do I prevent my skin from aging? While aging cannot be reversed or completely stopped, many aspects of the aging process can be slowed down. For example, chronically dry skin can be treated with aggressive moisturization with creams or Vaseline, as these mimic the lipid barrier which protects our skin in youth.6 Some hormone imbalances, such as low thyroid hormone levels can also cause the skin to age prematurely due to dryness, itching, and chronic irritation. SottoPelle bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is one solution for these hormone deficiencies, and can help prevent skin aging by replacing these deficient hormones and restoring the natural protective function of the skin. SottoPelle pellets are unique in that they release hormones very slowly over a long period of time, providing a stable level of hormone to your body. In contrast, pills or capsules taken by mouth result in spikes and dips in hormone levels every day due to the ingestion and metabolism of the hormones by the body.

How can I tell if I have a hormone imbalance or deficiency? If you are experiencing dry skin or if you are needing to moisturize your skin aggressively on a daily basis, or if you have other symptoms like feeling cold often, excessive fatigue, or stress, contact your doctor to determine whether you have any hormone imbalances. If you do, discuss with them or a SottoPelle provider about your options for hormone replacement, including the risks and benefits of pills, capsules, pellets, and/or injections. If your doctor is not comfortable or not familiar in discussing one of these treatments, ask for a referral to a physician provider who is willing to carefully explain the risks and benefits of each treatment type.


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4. Langton AK, Sherratt MJ, Griffiths CE, Watson RE. A new wrinkle on old skin: the role of elastic fibres in skin ageing. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2010;32(5):330-339. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2010.00574.x [doi].
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