Teenage years are full of challenges and changes. In addition to handling the mounting stress at school and peer pressure, teens need to cope with physical changes. It is not uncommon for a teenager to look into the mirror and discover fine lines and wrinkles on their face.
Teenage wrinkles are seldom something to worry about and can usually be addressed with appropriate lifestyle changes. Over-the-counter products could also help, and elaborate cosmetic treatments are rarely needed.
Read on to learn about the causes, home remedies, treatments, and preventive steps for teenage wrinkles.
Are Wrinkles Normal For Teenagers?
It is usually uncommon for teenagers to develop deep wrinkles or even fine lines. The dermis, the middle layer of the skin, contains fibers called elastin and a protein called collagen (1). Adequate elastin and collagen are responsible for smooth, supple, and wrinkle-free skin. The dermis loses these substances as it ages, and that is why we develop wrinkles as we grow older. However, there is sufficient elastin and collagen in the skin during the teenage years, and wrinkles are uncommon during this phase.
The premature appearance of wrinkles in teenagers could be due to numerous factors, such as exposure to sunlight, pollution, stress, dry skin, and even facial expressions.
Causes Of Teenage Wrinkles
The following situations and lifestyle choices could lead to wrinkles in teenagers.
1. Prolonged exposure to sunlight
Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays is usually the most common cause of premature wrinkles (2). Teens who neglect wearing sunscreen while outdoors under direct sunlight could be at an increased risk of developing premature wrinkles.
The harmful UV rays of the sun create free radicals in the skin. These free radicals impair the elastin fibersin the skin, leading to wrinkles. The use of UV tanning beds could also lead to similar effects (3).
2. Eating excess sugar
Studies indicate that consuming excess sugar could hasten the skin’s aging process (4). In our body, sugar undergoes glycation, a chemical reaction between free sugar and proteins or lipids. This affects protein function, weakening the skin’s elasticity and resulting in wrinkles and other signs of premature skin aging (5).
3. Excessive stress
Teens may experience stress due to several experiences related to school or peer pressure. Extreme or constant stress increases the levels of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands when the body experiences stress (6). The hormone is noted to increase all signs of premature aging in the body, including the development of premature skin wrinkles.
4. Sleep deprivation
Studies have found that inadequate sleep could affect immune function, which could impact collagen production (7). Sleep deprivation could affect the body’s ability to repair damaged collagen molecules. Insufficient collagen could impact the skin’s integrity, leading to premature aging.
Sleep deprivation could also increase cortisol levels, leading to premature wrinkles in teenagers (6).
5. Smoking or exposure to smoke
Tobacco smoke can affect all parts of the body, including the skin. The compounds found in tobacco smoke could accelerate signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles, by impeding the production of collagen (8). Tobacco smoke compounds could also degrade collagen. The degradation of existing collagen and impaired production of new collagen ultimately leads to premature wrinkles.
The nicotine found in tobacco smoke could constrict blood vessels, preventing adequate oxygen from reaching all skin layers (9). The vasoconstriction of blood vessels can damage elastin, causing the skin to become loose and increasing the risk of developing wrinkles. Smoking a cigarette involves pursing of lips that can also cause wrinkles around the mouth.
6. Repetitive facial expressions
Repetitive facial movements and expressions, such as squinting, raising eyebrows, and pursing lips, could cause recurrent contraction of the underlying muscles. It could cause skin creases, which in the long run may become wrinkles (10).
7. Exposure to pollution
Pollutant particulate matter in the air could cause oxidative stress, which causes signs of skin aging, such as premature wrinkles (11). Air pollutants can damage elastin and collagen, increasing the risk of wrinkles. Some particulate matter may penetrate the skin via hair follicles, further increasing the premature damage to the skin (12).
8. Dry skin
The lack of adequate moisture could cause the skin cells to shrivel, increasing the appearance of lines and wrinkles (13). Dry skin may also work as a poor barrier against other factors, such as pollutants, leading to premature aging (14).
9. Low water intake
10. Alcohol and drug abuse
Alcohol causes dryness because it is a diuretic. It dehydrates various organs of the body, including the skin. The loss of skin moisture due to excess alcohol consumption could lead to wrinkles (10).
The use of narcotics is known to exacerbate skin aging in general (17). The compounds found in hallucinogens may damage elastin and collagen while also affecting the skin’s moisture content. Teens who abuse drugs could ultimately be more prone to wrinkles.
Beyond these causes, the use of some medications may lead to wrinkles in some teenagers (18).
Genetics may play a role, and teens may develop wrinkles if their parents had teenage wrinkles or experienced premature aging, although more research is needed to prove it. Certain genetic disorders, such as progeria (Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome), cause premature wrinkles; however, these are pathological reasons and different from lifestyle-related causes, which are more common causes for wrinkles among teens with no underlying disorders.
The following home remedies may reduce wrinkles and gradually eliminate them. If your teen has sensitive skin, allergies, or other skin conditions, consult a dermatologist before trying any home remedies.
1. Do face massage
A face massage with olive oil, almond oil, or coconut oil could moisturize the skin and increase blood circulation, which may eventually smoothen out wrinkles. Begin by cleansing the face with lukewarm water followed by steaming to open the skin pores.
Use oil to massage the face with deep and stimulating circular motions. If your teen has sensitive skinthat is susceptible to breakouts, ask them to use light pressure. They must massage their face daily to reduce wrinkles.
2. Apply honey
Honey contains several antioxidants that may neutralize the free radicals responsible for premature skin aging. It also contains compounds that may help clear dead skin cells, reduce fine lines, and eliminate light wrinkles. For best results, apply raw honey over the face and neck and keep it for 20-30 minutes. Wash the face with lukewarm water. You can also combine honey with milk, yogurt, green apple, or banana for better results.
3. Use aloe vera
Aloe vera gel may enhance collagen production, improve skin elasticity, and promote skin tightening. Aloe vera also contains several vitamins that may help repel free radicals responsible for wrinkles. Massage your face with aloe vera gel so that it penetrates the skin pores. Leave it for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this daily for wrinkle-free skin.
4. Use egg white mask
Egg white is rich in micronutrients and proteins that may help fight off free radicals and prevent wrinkles. You may make this mask by separating egg whites from the yolk and whisking it. Apply it on the face with a brush and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Make sure you buy organic eggs from a trusted source since raw eggs may sometimes contain pathogens, such as salmonella bacteria (19).
5. Apply creams with vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that could fight off free radicals and play a vital role in the synthesis of collagen (20). The use of face creams rich in vitamin C may help improve collagen production, reducing the appearance of wrinkles eventually. The teen may consider applying a night cream before bedtime. Wash the face with lukewarm water and apply the cream as per instructions on the container.
Most home remedies are backed by little scientific evidence. Therefore, it is ideal to consult a dermatologist before trying them out. You may also consult a dermatologist if you wish to explore treatments for teenage wrinkles.
A dermatologist will assess several factors, such as the teen’s age, health condition, the underlying cause of wrinkles, lifestyle, and overall skin health, before determining a suitable treatment method. If treatment is considered, the dermatologist may recommend any of the following procedures.
1. Topical treatment
It could be the preferred treatment modality to eliminate teenage wrinkles. Topical treatment may include the use of serums and creams that aim at eliminating wrinkles over time. A few examples include hyaluronic acid-based serums and creams with vitamin C or retinol.
Hyaluronic acidmay help improve the elasticity of the epidermis, the top layer of skin. It may help reduce wrinkles by keeping the skin plump and smooth. Creams with vitamin C or retinol (vitamin A) could reduce free radical damage and improve collagen synthesis.
Many of these creams are available over-the-counter, but they are best used as per the doctor’s prescription.
2. Cosmetic treatment
Cosmetic procedures could include non-invasive procedures that can help reduce wrinkles through external interventions, such as ablative tools or chemicals.
Cosmetic treatment is usually not recommended for teens due to the procedures’ potential to cause severe side effects and the risk of permanent skin damage. Most teens may not show wrinkles significant enough to qualify for these procedures in the first place. Also, there might be legal limitations and implications related to cosmetic surgery of teens, depending on your resident country or state (21).
If you wish your teen to have a cosmetic treatment for wrinkles or your teen desires it, discuss the procedure and its prognosis in detail with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic surgery of teens. Below are some cosmetic treatments that may be considered for teenage wrinkles (22) (23) (24).
- Laser resurfacing: It involves the use of a laser beam to carefully ablate unwanted imperfections, such as wrinkles, from the skin.
- Dermabrasion: The doctor uses an abrasive tool to sand your skin in a controlled manner. It helps eliminate the imperfect, dry outer layer of skin, rendering a smooth appearance to the skin.
- Chemical peel: A chemical peel involves using chemicals to peel the flawed outer layers of the skin, giving it a smoother appearance.
- Photodynamic therapy: It is a type of photochemical process where light of a specific frequency is used along with a chemical to improve the skin’s appearance.
- Micro needling: The procedure involves pricking the skin with pen-shaped or roller devices. The injury caused by these pricks stimulates collagen production, reducing wrinkles eventually.
Invasive procedures used in adults, such as botox, facelift, and fillers, are not recommended for teenagers.
Prevention Of Wrinkles In Teenagers
Avoiding the various potential causes of wrinkles is the best way to prevent teenage wrinkles. A teen could try the following skincare methods to avoid wrinkles.
- Protect skin from sunlight: Ask your teen to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more whenever they step out in the sun. They must reapply it every couple of hours if they intend to stay outdoors for long, are swimming, or tend to sweat a lot. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, UV protection sunglasses, and a big-brimmed hat could also minimize skin exposure to sun rays.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet: Eat a balanced meal with adequate fruits and vegetables. Incorporate a good amount of vitamins A, C, and E in your diet as they are good for your skin. Reduce the consumption of sugar and carbs. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
- Practice meditation and exercise: Practicing yoga and meditation regularly helps in relieving stress and refreshes the body. Working out regularly also helps reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Stress-relieving hormones, such as endorphins, are also released and they help elevate your mood. These interventions could reduce wrinkles and improve the overall appearance of the skin.
- Improve sleeping habits: Getting enough sleep can improve the body’s ability to repair itself. It can even enhance collagen synthesis and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Adequate sleep also reduces the levels of cortisol; thus, contributing to healthier skin. Experts recommend that teens get nine to ten hours of sleep each night for healthy growth (25).
- Protect against pollutants: The dirt, pollutants, and sweat that clings to the skin could cause premature aging. Rinsing the face gently, without scrubbing it, twice a day, can be helpful. A teen may use a mild cleanser designed to remove pollutants stuck to the skin. Avoiding places with excessive pollution and wearing face protection, whenever possible, could help protect the skin from pollutants.
- Quit unhealthy habits: If your teen smokes, uses narcotics, or consumes alcohol, help and encourage them to quit the habit. You may contact a local support group to learn ways of helping your teen quit the habit. Speak to your pediatrician, who may teach you ways to assist teens in their efforts to quit unhealthy habits. Remember, teens learn from their parents. Make sure you quit any habits yourself before expecting them to do the same.
Teenage wrinkles may come as a surprise for a teenager but are seldom something to worry about. Most cases of teenage wrinkles are the result of lifestyle issues, and improvements in lifestyle habits are usually sufficient to eliminate wrinkles. If your teenage child’s wrinkles are chronic and seem to be increasing in their intensity, do not hesitate to speak to a dermatologist to determine any underlying cause.
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