Wrinkles are creases in the skin. They are also called rhytids.
Most wrinkles come from aging changes in skin. Aging of the skin, hair and nails is a natural process. There is nothing you can do to slow down the rate of skin aging, but many things in the environment will speed it up.
Frequent exposure to sunlight results in early skin wrinkles and dark areas (liver spots). It also increases the chances of getting skin cancer. Exposure to cigarette smoke can also make the skin wrinkle sooner.
Common causes of wrinkles include:
- Genetic factors (family history)
- Normal aging changes in the skin
- Sun exposure
Stay out of the sun as much as possible to limit skin wrinkles. Wear hats and clothing that protect your skin and use sunscreen when you are outside. Avoid cigarette smoke.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Wrinkles are not usually a cause for concern unless they occur at an early age. Talk to your health care provider if you think that your skin is getting wrinkled faster than normal at an early age. You may need to see a skin specialist (dermatologist) or plastic surgeon.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your doctor will ask questions such as:
- When did you first notice that your skin seemed more wrinkled than normal?
- Has it changed in any way?
- Has a skin spot become painful or does it bleed?
- What other symptoms are you having?
The doctor will examine your skin. You may need a skin lesion biopsy if you have any abnormal growths or skin changes.
Tretinoin (Retin-A) or creams containing alpha-hydroxy acids may sometimes help.
Chemical peels or laser resurfacing work well for early wrinkles.
Creams with growth factors may make fine lines and wrinkles look better.
Botulinum toxin (Botox) may be used to correct some of the wrinkles that are caused by overactive facial muscles.
Some people choose plastic surgery for age-related wrinkles (for example, a facelift).
Habif TM. Light-related diseases and disorders of pigmentation. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 19.
Rohrer TE, Wesley NO, Glogau R, et al. Cosmetic Surgery. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds.Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 152.
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.