Rhytid - Definition

Wrinkles can be treated and prevented

Wrinkles on face. Credit: Paul Burns / Getty Images

Definition: A rhytid, (ri′tid), is a wrinkle in the skin. The skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and subcutaneous fat.

The epidermis, the top layer of the skin, produces melanin, which gives the skin its color. It also protects the skin, with special cells known as keratinocytes, against environmental toxins. Some parts of the body have a thicker epidermis, like the soles of the feet, than the eyelids, which has thinner epidermis.

The dermis, the middle layer of skin, has many functions. It is the source of sweat glands and sensation. It also grows hair and produces oil to keep skin smooth. It is the location of blood vessels that feeds skin and removes toxins.

The subcutaneous fat layer is the bottom layer of skin. With its special connecting tissue, it attaches the dermis to muscles and bones. It supports the function of nerve cells and blood vessels. It is also responsible for controlling the temperature of the body and padding muscles and bones to protect them from bumps and falls.

Each layer of skin is affected by aging, genetics and environmental factors. The layers tend to become thinner when tissue production slows, making the skin susceptible to damage and change. Thinner skin that is no longer filled in with collagen and fat cells begins to show lines and wrinkles.

Causes of Wrinkles

Wrinkles are caused by a combination of different conditions. Some people are genetically predisposed to develop wrinkles. Some of the causes of wrinkles include:

  • Age
  • Exposure to harmful substances for a prolonged period of time
  • Artificial tanning
  • Ultraviolet light
  • Smoking

The constant contraction of facial muscles, either by squinting or smiling can also lead to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. With thinner skin the muscles are no longer able to maintain its flexibility and retain its shape.

Treatment of Wrinkles

For most people, fine lines and wrinkles on the skin is part of the aging process.

Wrinkles appear as creases or folds in the skin. They are seen on the face, neck, hands and other parts of the body. Some people are bothered by wrinkles.

There are several treatment options available to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

They include:

  • Topical creams

Lasers poke tiny microscopic holes into the skin triggering the skin’s healing process and stimulating collagen production. Lasers have been used on the face, chest, and hands.

Dermal fillers are used to eliminate the smile lines around the mouth and under the eyes to diminish the appearance of wrinkles and dark circles. They are also used to increase volume in the cheeks, jawline, and the back of the hands.

Injectables are commonly used to remove the wrinkles around the eyes by preventing wrinkles from forming. They relax the muscles, preventing them from contracting and causing wrinkles to develop on the forehead and at the corner of the eye.

Prevention of Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Simple lifestyle changes can help reduce or prevent the signs of aging. Some of them include:

  • Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis
  • Not tanning
  • Moisturizing on a daily basis
  • Using over-the-counter products as directed
  • Avoiding products that sting or burn
  • Limiting the number of products used
  • Shopping for products wisely
  • Giving products time to work
  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Reducing stress

Following these tips can help prevent or postpone the development of wrinkles. If the results are not as expected, a consultation with a doctor to develop an individualized skin plan is suggested.

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