What You Should Know About Premature Aging

Rossamund
3 min readMay 27, 2024
Signs of premature aging

As you get older, your body’s internal processes — from skin cell turnover to recovery from exercise — slow down and take longer to recharge.
This makes room for the appearance of signs of aging, such as wrinkles.
These changes may be surprising if they occur earlier than expected, thus being called “premature aging.”
It’s impossible to avoid these changes completely, but there are ways to reduce the signs of aging in your body — especially if the changes occur before you’re ready to accept them.

The aging process looks different for each person, but there are certain signs of aging that are considered “premature” if you notice them before you are 35 years old.

Gaunt Hands
Over time, the top layer of your skin becomes thinner and contains less of the building blocks, such as collagen, that give your skin its shape.
As a result, your hands may begin to appear more veined, thin and prone to wrinkles.
There is no objective measure of when hands begin to look old, but most people tend to notice it in their late 30s and early 40s.

Sun Spots
Sun spots, also called age spots and liver spots, are flat spots on the skin caused by years of exposure to the sun.
These hyperpigmented spots may appear on your face, back of your hands, or forearms.
These sunspots tend to appear at or after age 40. People with lighter skin, such as Fitzpatrick types 1 and 2, may see the development of these sunspots earlier.

Wrinkles or Sagging
As you enter your 30s, your skin slows production of collagen, the protein that gives your skin its shape. This collagen is what helps your skin bounce back and stay plump.
With less collagen in the skin, wrinkles and sagging are more visible. You may notice this happening more often in areas around frequently used muscles, such as the forehead, or where you are exposed to the sun more often.
The age when people first notice wrinkles can vary, with few standards stating that wrinkles are “premature.”
And sometimes aging isn’t even the culprit. It could be just dirt or dehydration.

Inflammation or hyperpigmentation along the chest
Many people experience patchy discoloration of their chest as they age.
Similar to sunspots, these areas of distinct pigmentation can be caused by cell damage from sun exposure.
This kind of hyperpigmentation is not necessarily related to aging. This could be a result of eczema or other skin conditions that damage the melanin cells in your skin.
There is no average age at which this skin condition typically appears.

Causes of Premature Aging
There are several different factors that directly impact how quickly signs of aging appear on your body.

Exposure to sunlight and tanning
Tanning beds and exposure to sunlight penetrate your skin with UV rays. These rays destroy the DNA in your skin cells, causing wrinkles.

Smoke
The toxins in cigarette smoke expose your skin to oxidative stress. This leads to dryness, wrinkles and other signs of premature aging.

Genes
There are some very rare genetic conditions that can cause you to show signs of aging in early childhood and early puberty. This situation is called progeria.
Werner’s Syndrome affects 1 in 1 million people. This disease causes wrinkled skin, gray hair, and baldness to occur between the ages of 13 and 30.
Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome is an even more rare condition, affecting 1 in 8 million babies.
Children with this syndrome do not grow as quickly as other children in their age group. They also suffer from emaciated limbs and baldness. Average life expectancy for children living with Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome is 13 years.

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