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Cutis. 1989 May;43(5):431-6.

Physiological consequences of human skin aging.

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Laboratory for Investigative Dermatology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021.


The expression and treatment of cutaneous disease in the elderly differ from those applicable to younger adults. Anatomical changes in aging skin result in altered physiological behavior and susceptibility to disease. Decreased epidermal renewal and tissue repair accompany the aging process. The rate of hair and nail growth declines, as well as the quantity of eccrine, apocrine, and sebum secretion. There are alterations in immune surveillance and antigen presentation with aging. The cutaneous vascular supply is decreased, leading to decreases in inflammatory response, absorption, and cutaneous clearance. Impaired thermal regulation, tactile sensitivity, and pain perception occur as one ages. We summarize the major changes that occur during the intrinsic aging process of the skin to facilitate the recognition and treatment of skin disease in the older patient.

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