Is your skin breaking out, fine lines beginning to appear, or dark spots showing up on your face? With a little knowledge, men can learn to recognize and address common skin concerns. Gone are the days of borrowing your wife’s facial cleanser or mom’s creams and calling that your skin care regimen. Men’s skin tends to be thicker, more sensitive and produce more oil. And, thanks to shaving, men also have to combat ingrown hairs, dryness and razor burn. The goal is to be more aware of your skin issues and avoid preventable ones. Yet, while many skin concerns are minor, some problems may signal something more serious, so when in doubt, always consult a doctor for proper diagnosis.
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Wrinkles tend to be thought of as something that affects only older people; but, wrinkles begin to appear in some men as young as 20. As men age, visible signs are more sudden and more pronounced with thinner skin, loss of moisture, deep-set wrinkles on the forehead and pronounced lines on the sides of the nose. Frown lines (those between the eyebrows) and crow's feet (lines that radiate from the corners of the eyes) appear to develop because of permanent small muscle contractions. Wrinkles and fine lines become more apparent as the horny layer loses its radiance and the skin';s capacity to absorb diminishes. In addition, if skin is repeatedly overexpose to sunlight, collagen fibers beneath the skin break down causing increased wrinkling. Did you know 90% of aging is actually due to sun exposure!
Over time, gravity and repetitive muscle use often cause the formation jowls, double chins, slackened cheeks and drooping eyelids. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, face lifts and soft tissue fillers have increased 10% in the past year. In the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereol - studies showed an association between firm, even skin tone in men and youth, often associating appearance with success and confidence.
Hyperpigmentation & Photo Aged Skin
Dark spots on the skin, also called hyperpigmentation or liver spots, are a common skin problem especially beginning in middle age where the skin’s natural aging process triggers melanin overproduction. The excess pigment collects, forming spots of gray, brown and black discoloration on the skin. There are also a variety of conditions that may cause dark spots to develop such as some type of trauma to the skin, especially infections like acne, certain medications, and sun exposure. Men are seeing very high rates of skin cancer, particularly basil cell carcinoma. Studies show melanoma is also on the rise with 39,000 new cases each year in men – that’s 10,000 more than women. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in men over the age of 50.
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting 40 to 50 million people, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. A fourth of those with acne are adult men. Men’s skin is a hormone sensitive organ that is constantly affected by testosterone, stimulating more sebum production, making it oilier and shinier with open pores. The sweat composition of a man’s skin is also slightly different, containing more lactic acid which contributes to its acidity with a pH of 4.5, producing an acid mantle which is a combination of oily fats and perspiration. Acne is caused when the skin's oil glands become overactive and produce too much oil, which, along with dry skin cells, clogs the pores.
Bacteria accumulate in the clogged pores, triggering inflammation. The excess oil production normally happens around puberty and can last well into adulthood.
Since men have more facial hair which is toughened by testosterone, one of the most common skin issues for men is pseudofolliculitis (a.k.a. ingrown hairs). Generally, this results from shaving and is easily controlled with proper skin care and proper shaving. Ingrown hairs occur when the end of the hair shaft is cut, resulting in an inflammatory response such as redness, itchiness, and/or a raised infected area. This particular problem also occurs more commonly in people who have curly hair.
Dark Circles & Puffiness Under the Eyes
Dark circles are likely to become more noticeable and permanent with age. This is because as people get older, their skin loses collagen, becoming thinner and more translucent. Aging changes in the skin cause the eyelid skin to lose elasticity and sag. As the eyelid begins to loosen, normal fat that lies beneath the eyeball pushes forward against the lower eyelid and creates a bulge or eye bag or puffy eye. A shadow forms beneath the protruding puffy eyelid and creates a dark circle beneath the lower eyelid. Circles may also gradually begin to appear darker in one eye than the other as a result of some habitual facial expressions, such as an uneven smile. Other causes are genetic or medically based, such as infection, head or facial trauma, and others are lifestyle based, such as drinking, too much coffee or crying. Periorbital Hyperpigmentation, the official name for when there is more melanin produced around the eyes than is usual, also gives the skin under the eyes a darker color.
Today, dermatologists are reporting an increase in the number of men who are seeking diagnosis and treatment for sensitive skin. Not only is men’s skin thicker than a woman’s, but it is also more sensitive as well. This can manifest as redness, burning, itching or dryness. Sensitive skin can affect all parts of the body, but facial skin gets the most exposure to the elements, skin products and razor blades. Excessively dry skin, which doesn’t adequately protect nerve endings on the skin, may also lead to skin reactions from cosmetics or skin care products. Rosacea, an inflammatory skin disease, also causes facial redness, sensitive skin, burning, stinging, swelling, papules, visible red capillary veins, or a bulbous nose. Men and women of all ages can be affected by rosacea with over 45 million estimated sufferers worldwide.