“All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am; So many stories of where I’ve been, and how I got to where I am.”
from “The Story” by Brandi Carlile
I love those lyrics. The idea of the lines on our faces and skin being visible proof of life lived is powerful.
However, there are mornings I look in the mirror sans makeup after a night of less than restful sleep and feel anything but inspired. In fact, I can be downright cruel to myself thinking about the ways I could be taking better care of my skin.
There’s an entire industry that wants to help me do just that. Americans spend a lot of money – billions of dollars – trying to fill and plump those hard-earned lines and cover up the under-eye circles that come with age and experience.
I’m working on accepting that aging skin – and the accompanying bumps, veins and wrinkles – is part of life. The vertical lines between my eyes betray the concentration that’s poured into years as a writer, stretch marks on my belly bear witness to two children, while the sun spots, also known as age spots, let the world know I used to be a bit of a sun worshipper. Wear sunscreen at all times, kids.
With all that said, are there signs of aging on our skin that we should be worried about beyond cosmetic appearance? There are a few things to watch out for as you’re embracing the skin you’re in, wrinkles, skin tags, stray hairs (don’t ask) and all.
- Dry, itchy skin. Although a loss of sweat and oil glands can certainly contribute to drier skin as we age, it can also be a sign of diabetes or kidney disease. If extra lotion and increased hydration doesn’t help, it could be time to talk to your doctor.
- Suspicious spots. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. If you spent a lot of time sunbathing in your youth, it’s important to be diligent about checking your skin for signs of cancer now. Schedule an annual skin check with a dermatologist and watch for any unusual skin changes, particularly on skin often exposed to the sun. And, if you don’t already, incorporate sunscreen into your daily routine.
- Veins that hurt. Although varicose veins aren’t a big reason for concern, health wise, if they cause achiness or make you self-conscious enough that you no longer enjoy activities you used to, it could be worth talking to your doctor about how to get rid of them. Compression socks and minor surgery are options.
The bottom line? It’s not vain to be self-conscious about changes your skin experiences as it gets older. It’s also perfectly fine to eschew beauty norms and standards as you see fit. The beauty of age is the wisdom you’ve earned that helps you decide the best path forward for you – just stay aware of skin changes that could signal an underlying health issue, so you can stay beautiful inside and out.
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