Are you starting to notice early wrinkles and skin thinning? You may be facing the condition of crepey skin. Marked by a sudden onset of wrinkled skin, especially before your 50s, this condition can be a cause for worry.
Understanding the causes of skin degradation can help you plan a skin routine that nourishes, repairs and helps reverse such conditions before it's too late. Read on to know the causes, symptoms and the best herbal and homemade treatments for crepey skin.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Hormones play a vital role in maintaining the plumpness of skin. Receding hormones, as one ages, combined with age and solar oxidative damage of skin results in thin and lax skin.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Is Crepey Skin?
You may have noticed how the skin of the elderly is often flaccid and lightly creased. This is what crepey skin looks like. However, this condition is not limited to aged people.
Crepey skin literally refers to skin that resembles crepe paper and can occur during your 40s or start as early as in your 20s.
When structural proteins such as collagen and elastin that give your skin its elasticity begin to deplete, the skin loses its firmness. This can be caused by various external and internal factors such as sun damage, age, weight loss, dehydration, smoking, etc.
According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, an aggravation of the Vata and Pitta doshas and a decrease of the nourishing Rasa dhatu (primary fluids of the body) can lead to changes in skin texture.
The hot Pitta damages the collagen bonds and excess Vata depletes the skin’s moisture, leading to crepey skin. While certain herbal and home remedies are known to show results, you may need to consult your dermatologist if the condition is too advanced.
As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “Hormones play a vital role in maintaining the plumpness of skin. Receeding hormones, as one ages, combined with age and solar oxidative damage of skin results in thin and lax skin.”
What Does Crepey Skin Look Like?
Crepey skin is highly fragile, slightly wrinkled, loose and sagging, making it susceptible to easy wounding. The condition usually affects areas of the body where the skin already has a fine structure such as the neck, around your eyes, arms and inner thighs.
A major difference between fine lines and crepey skin under your eyes and neck is that while fine lines are caused by age and frequent facial muscle contractions, crepey skin is a result of long-term sun damage which causes elastin and collagen to break down.
What Causes Crepey Skin?
Sun damage is a primary cause of crepey skin. Exposure to UVA and UVB rays  of the sun can cause severe skin damage on many levels. UVA rays have longer wavelengths and cause DNA cell damage.
To prevent the rays from penetrating deeper, your melanocytes (pigment-producing skin cells) respond by releasing melanin to block the sun’s rays. This causes tanning.
However, long exposures can cause these rays to easily break through your skin’s defense. They can penetrate deeper into the dermis, causing damage to collagen, elastin and certain other fibers that provide structural support to your skin.
Repeated UVA ray exposure breaks down the collagen fibers, leading to crepey skin.
2. Tanning Beds
Another major culprit that causes crepey skin is tanning beds . Unchecked and frequent exposure to UV rays causes more than just tanning. It destroys the collagen and elastin fibers in healthy skin, leading to loosened, leather-textured skin.
A research article named Ultraviolet Radiation, Aging and the Skin: Prevention of Damage by Topical cAMP Manipulation, reports increased use of artificial indoor tanning, especially amongst American adults and college students.
3. Sudden Weight Loss
In the case of sudden weight loss, one not only loses fat but also tends to lose collagen. This can result in loose crepey skin that is wrinkled and lacks firmness.
Chronological aging is a natural process where your skin is gradually deprived of fatty acids and fibers that keep it plump and taut. The skin loses its ability to regain its original structure after being stretched.
You may begin to notice loosened folds, sagging and crepey skin affecting different parts of the body.
5. Dry Skin
Well moisturized skin retains fluids that make it appear plump. This even helps to disguise minor wrinkles and fine lines.
However, skin that lacks essential moisture, appears shriveled and prematurely aged. Thus, people with dry skin are more vulnerable to experiencing crepey skin.
Certain skin conditions like dermatitis, xerosis or hormonal imbalances in the body can disrupt your lipid barrier and increase the risk of crepey skin.
6. Nutrition Deficiency
Your skin requires a variety of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and perform its functions.
Some of the main nutritional deficiencies linked to crepey skin include the deficiency of vitamins A, B, C, D and E and magnesium, selenium, zinc, calcium and iodine.
Additionally, consumption of foods with a high glycemic index can also lead to cellular inflammation and collagen depletion through the process of glycation.
Skin thinning is one of the common side effects of long-term topical corticosteroid use.
Apart from this, diuretics used to treat high blood pressure, psoralens, antihistamines and a few other drugs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, thus increasing the risk of developing crepey skin.
Smoking is often related to the premature formation of wrinkles.
According to a study named Smoking affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin, smoking decreased the production of collagen I and III by 18% and 22% respectively in 47 smokers. Thus smoking can be considered as a causative factor of crepey skin.
How To Get Rid Of Crepey Skin
A. Herbal And Home Remedies
These remedies focus on stimulating collagen synthesis, improving your skin barrier function and replenishing lost moisture to combat dryness.
Further, herbs that have a high antioxidant (polyphenol, flavonoids) content are used to treat oxidative-stress-related skin damage to improve the condition of your crepey skin.
1. Ayurvedic Rasayana Chikitsa
This aims to rejuvenate and improve your physical health through the use of ‘vyasthapana’ or anti-aging herbs and medicines. These contain potent phytochemicals that reduce inflammation, stimulate cell regeneration and repair, remove toxins and improve your body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients.
Thus, administration of rasayana drugs can be an effective herbal treatment for skin degenerative conditions such as crepey skin.
Some of these ‘vyasthapana’ herbs include :
- Gotu Kola
According to a research named PA01.59. Evaluation of rasayana effect of vayasthapana drugs, capsules containing an aqueous extract made from 8 anti-aging herbs suggested by Acharya Charaka were administered to a group of 50 volunteers in the age group of 45-55 years.
After a period of 90 days, results showed significant improvement in antioxidant activity and holistic skin and health improvement.
2. Avocado, Oatmeal, Yogurt And Honey
Avocado is rich in vitamins B, C, E, K, magnesium and essential mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, making it an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Oatmeal also exhibits anti-inflammatory effects and along with yogurt and honey helps trap moisture into your crepey skin.
Mix 2 tablespoons of avocado paste with 1 tablespoon of colloidal oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of yogurt and ½ tablespoon of honey. Apply the pack on affected areas and wash off after an hour to hydrate your crepey skin.
3. Gotu Kola, Rosehip Oil And Amalaki
Gotu kola is known as nature’s own botox therapy for its amazing anti-aging effects. Rosehip oil contains powerful antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, carotenoids and polyphenols  that combat free radical skin damage.
As per a research named Insights from Ayurveda for translational stem cell research, amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica), is an effective inhibitor of hyaluronidase and collagenase type 2 enzymes that break down hyaluronic acid and collagen respectively.
To prepare this herbal remedy, mix 1 ½ tablespoons each of gotu kola and amalaki powders. To this add a sufficient amount of rosehip carrier oil to make a paste.
Apply on the affected areas for an hour and wash off. This remedy is also helpful for crepey skin under the eyes.
4. Soybean Oil, Frankincense Essential Oil And Moringa
Soybean oil has a unique compound known as isoflavone which can stimulate collagen and hyaluronic acid production . Adding a few drops of frankincense oil enhances its antioxidant properties.
Ayurveda propagates moringa as a powerful skin rejuvenating herb due to the presence of various phytochemicals such as flavonoids, tannins, coumarins, phenolic acids and glycosides .
Take 2 tablespoons of soybean oil and add 2 to 3 drops of frankincense essential oil to it. To this add 1 ½ tablespoon of moringa powder and mix well. Apply this pack on your crepey skin and wash off after 40 minutes to an hour.
5. Panax Ginseng
Panax ginseng,  more popularly known as the Korean red ginseng, is an age-reversing miracle herb extensively consumed and topically applied to improve facial wrinkling.
Fermented red ginseng is said to be a better crepey skin treatment when compared to the unfermented one.
Take 1-2 tablespoons of panax ginseng powder and mix it with any nourishing carrier oil and apply on crepey skin under your eyes and on the neck. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes and wash off.
6. Punarnava, Triphala And Carrot Seed Oil
Punarnava is one of the ‘vyasthapana’ (anti-aging) herbs, extensively used in Ayurveda to restore skin health.
It owes its therapeutic benefits to a wide range of phytochemicals such as flavonoids, isoflavonoids, alkaloids, phenols and glycosides .
Triphala is a common medicinal herb that balances all three doshas and can treat various skin conditions. Carrot seed oil’s moisturizing and cell renewal properties help reduce wrinkles formed due to crepey skin.
Mix punarnava and triphala in equal quantities and add a sufficient amount of carrot seed oil to make a paste. Apply on affected areas and wash off after an hour.
Moisturize daily with coconut oil/ carrot seed oil/ argan oil/ olive oil/ aloe vera gel to help crepey skin.
B. Diet For Crepey Skin
Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of a nutritious diet for healthy skin. The right foods can help in collagen synthesis, maintain optimum skin hydration, aid cell renewal and help fix your crepey skin.
Soybean oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, avocados, almonds, peanuts, spinach
Amla, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, peppers, guavas, kiwi
Liver, broccoli, avocados, cabbage, seafood, legumes, eggs
Fatty fish, egg, mushrooms
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, canola oil, cod liver oil
Antioxidants (flavonoids, polyphenols, carotenoids)
Tea, apples, soybean, berries, flax seeds, olives, dark chocolate, pumpkin, carrots, mangoes
Meat, eggs, soybean, dairy products, beans
Oysters, red meat, crabs, nuts
Tofu, wheat germ oil, avocados, sesame seeds, ladies finger/ okra
Seafood, eggs, Brazil nuts, banana
C. Dermatological Treatments
Cell regulators such as topical retinols (vitamin A)  can directly improve collagen production by increasing your cell turnover rate.
These also act as antioxidants and prevent the activity of collagenase (an enzyme that causes collagen to break down), thereby helping crepey skin.
2. Dermal Fillers
Injectable fillers aimed at reconstructing depleted skin fibers and replenishing essential lipids can be used to treat crepey skin.
Dermal fillers often contain compounds such as hyaluronic acid, amino acids, vitamins and other nutrients. Once injected, your crepey skin is likely to feel more voluminous and plump.
3. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles caused by crepey skin. In this process, mild acids such as salicylic, glycolic or lactic acids are used to gently peel away the damaged epidermis. This makes way for new and healthy skin to resurface.
4. Cool Sculpting
Also known as cryolipolysis , this method freezes fat cells under your skin’s surface and gradually dissolves them. With the excess fat gone, your skin appears more firm and wrinkle-free.
However, being a cosmetic procedure, it is always helpful to consult your dermatologist before opting for it. This will ensure you get desired end results with minimal side effects.
5. Laser Therapies
Non-ablative laser therapies are often recommended to correct structural changes in aging skin. Through controlled wounding from the heat generated by the laser, collagen synthesis is stimulated in your skin.
This considerably reduces wrinkles and fine lines caused by crepey skin and gives your skin a youthful appearance.
How To Prevent Crepey Skin?
The below-mentioned simple precautions can help you avoid the occurrence of crepey skin or curb its progression.
1. Reduce the time you spend under the sun. With the depleting ozone layer, you are always at a risk of photoaging and skin cancer from long exposure to harmful UV rays.
2. While stepping out, don’t forget to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen . Wear cover-alls for further sun protection.
3. Use herbal scrubs to exfoliate your skin.
4. Moisturize twice daily with moisturizers that contain skin-repairing antioxidants like vitamin E. Opt for a cream-based moisturizer that can keep your skin hydrated for long hours. Natural carrier oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, glycerin or aloe vera are also good options.
5. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated from the inside, since dehydration can worsen crepey skin conditions.
6. Consume a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins and antioxidants.
7. Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
The Last Word
Crepey skin under the eyes and neck can give you an aged appearance. In most cases, the condition is a clear indication of sun damage and definitely calls for immediate attention. Leaving your skin untreated can put it at risk of developing melanoma.
While there is no overnight cure, regular application of herbal and home remedies mentioned in this article can gradually help restore your skin’s natural youth. It is also advisable to consult your Ayurvedic doctor to correctly analyze the cause of your crepey skin and plan a skin routine that best fits your skin type.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Photoaging: What You Need To Know About the Other Kind of Aging, 2019 January
2. The Risks of Tanning, 2019
3. Therapeutic Applications of Rose Hips from Different Rosa Species, 2017 May
4. Recent advances in the anti-aging effects of phytoestrogens on collagen, water content, and oxidative stress, 2019 November
5. Phytochemicals and uses of Moringa oleifera leaves in Ugandan rural communities, 2010 May
6. Ginseng: An Nonnegligible Natural Remedy for Healthy Aging, 2017 December
7. Phytochemical, Therapeutic, and Ethnopharmacological Overview for a Traditionally Important Herb: Boerhavia diffusa Linn., 2014 May
8. Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review, 2014 July
9. Selenium, aging and aging-related diseases, 2018 December
10. Skin anti-aging strategies, 2012 July
11. Cryolipolysis for noninvasive body contouring: clinical efficacy and patient satisfaction, 2014 June
12. Daily photoprotection to prevent photoaging, 2021 May
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