Is your skin losing its plumpness? Thin skin on the face can occur much before you reach old age. Skin thinning must be immediately addressed to avoid further complications.
Thinning of skin can happen due to side effects of drugs, overexposure to the sun or even regular tobacco and alcohol abuse. If detected early, the right skincare, lifestyle practices and diet can help reverse thin skin gradually. Read on to know what causes thinning of skin and what you can do to prevent it.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Amla is an elixir for skin that’s aging and thinning. The rich Vitamin C content of Amla ensures your collagen-connective tissue remains healthy and prevents UV damage due to the sun. High blood sugar levels and decreased insulin sensitivity also contribute to skin thinning. Amla also checks hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Is Thinning Of Skin?
Thin skin is a natural result of skin aging. As your body ages, essential fatty acids, collagen and elastin fibers that keep your skin firm, flexible and plump begin to deplete. Hence, though the number of skin layers remain the same, your skin feels more fragile and paper-like (crepey skin).
Thin skin can lead to a condition called Dermatoporosis  . This results in cutaneous fragility and loss of skin functionality, making the skin prone to tears and bruises . Apart from frequent injuries, skin thinning can also delay wound healing and increase your susceptibility to infections.
You may begin to notice the first signs of skin thinning on the face and under the eyes where the skin is naturally less thick than the rest of the body. However, thin skin on the hands and legs is also fairly common.
Steroid inhalers can cause thinning of skin! Often the most preferred treatment for asthma, inhalation of corticosteroids, is known to reduce collagen synthesis. Further, individuals under this treatment are more at risk of skin thinning through sun exposure, due to a cumulative effect. 
Causes Of Skin Thinning
Thinning of skin leading to chronic skin fragility  is a common age-related dermatological issue. Structural proteins of elastin and collagen in your skin gradually break down with age.
Ceramides and fatty acids that give your skin its soft youthful bounce also deplete. As a result, aged skin appears thin and transparent. Sometimes, you can also see the veins and capillaries that lie underneath thin skin.
According to research named Genetics and skin aging, your genes majorly influence how your skin changes with age.
Other studies suggest that your skin’s level of hydration, elasticity and morphological changes incurred by it are 60% dependent on genes , while the remaining 40% depends on environmental factors.
3. Sun Exposure
Exposure to the UV rays of the sun causes more skin damage than just a tan. Research states that sun rays can cause collagen to break down  and also impair your epidermal barrier leading to dry, thin skin.
Skin thinning due to sun damage occurs mostly in areas such as the face, arms and legs that remain exposed. Thin skin is also more common amongst users of tanning beds.
4. Long-Term Usage Of Topical Corticosteroids
While corticosteroids creams are often first-line treatments for acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions, prolonged use can lead to dermal atrophy or thinning of skin.
According to research named Glucocorticoid -Induced Skin Atrophy: The Old and the New, steroid treatments can cause increased skin fragility, cutaneous transparency, bruising and impairment of the epidermal barrier.
Tobacco smoking, especially due to the presence of nicotine, can damage skin and cause skin atrophy or thinning.
As per a Histological study on the effect of nicotine on adult male guinea pig thin skin, administration of nicotine revealed a marked reduction in elastin. It also disorganized bundles of collagen with increased spaces between each.
Being a diuretic, alcohol removes water and essential nutrients from your body. Dehydration can affect your skin’s texture, leading to dry, thin skin and early wrinkles.
7. Medical Conditions
Certain diseases such as the Gottron syndrome  can cause a mild form of skin thinning due to loss of subcutaneous fat. This gives skin an aged, transparent appearance.
Menopause can take a toll on women’s health. Research shows that women generally lose about 30% of skin collagen during their initial years of menopause . This can result in thinning of skin and rapid skin aging.
9. Nutrition Deficiencies
Essential vitamins such as vitamin A, C, D and E along with omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants like flavonoids are known to promote skin health . Deficiencies in these micronutrients can alter the structural integrity and biological functions of your skin. 
Symptoms Of Thinning Skin
- Frequent, unprovoked bruising
- Transparent looking skin
- Dryness and loss of elasticity
- Visible tendons, veins and capillaries
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Delayed wound healing
- Easy tears and cuts from minor trauma
- Dermal atrophy
- Increased sensitivity to the sun
How To Reverse/Thicken Thinning Of Skin?
A. Home And Herbal Remedies
1. Gotu Kola, Amalaki, Amruta And Coconut Oil
A face pack made with Ayurveda’s ‘Vyasthapana’ (anti-aging) herbs  is widely used to treat skin degenerative diseases such as thinning of skin.
- Mix 1 tablespoon each of gotu kola, amalaki and amruta powders.
- Add about 2 ½ tablespoons of virgin coconut oil to make a paste.
- Apply over areas experiencing thinning.
- Leave it on for 1 hour and wash off.
Hailing the benefits of Amla, Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix says, “Amla is an elixir for skin that’s aging and thinning. The rich Vitamin C content of Amla ensures your collagen - connective tissue remains healthy and prevents UV damage from the sun.”
High blood sugar levels and decreased insulin sensitivity also contribute to skin thinning. Amla also checks hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels.
2. Soybean Oil/ Carrot Seed Oil/ Almond Oil Massage
Rich in isoflavones, tocopherols, carotenoids and many other antioxidants, daily massages with these oils can help improve thinning of skin under the eyes, face and other areas.
- Pour a small amount of the oil and rub it in between your palms to warm it.
- Massage areas of your body having thin skin in small circular motions.
- Leave it on for an hour and wash off.
Tea (green/black/white) is rich in catechins (polyphenols) and is often recommended for detoxing and overall skin improvement.
- Brew tea and apply it as a toner or face mist.
- Alternatively, add it to your face pack to improve skin thinning on the face.
4. Grape and Pomegranate Seed Powder
A prized addition to various anti-aging products, grape  and pomegranate seed powders are known to stimulate the production of collagen and prevent skin thinning.
- Mix 1 tablespoon each of grape and pomegranate seed powders.
- Add a carrier oil of your choice to make a paste. You may even add a few drops of an essential oil such as rose or frankincense.
- Apply the pack on areas of skin thinning and wash off after 40 minutes to an hour.
B. Dermatological Treatments
1. Topical Retinoids
This is a type of vitamin A medication widely used to treat skin thinning and other effects of photoaging.
Retinoids stimulate epidermal proliferation, thus leading to thickening of the epidermis . However, one may experience side effects such as burning or dermatitis from retinoid treatment.
2. Dermal Fillers
These can be considered a good nonsurgical option for treating skin thinning. Made of ingredients like hyaluronic acid, polylactic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite etc, these fillers help add volume, especially to thin skin under the eyes.
3. Laser Resurfacing
Here, heat from the laser is used to stimulate the production of collagen in your skin. While ablative lasers can have a more visible effect on thin skin, a non-ablative one ensures quick recovery from the procedure.
Microneedling aims to kickstart your skin’s natural healing process. A hand-held dermaroller is used by the professional to make minor injuries on the face. As the skin repair process begins, new collagen is synthesized, thus treating skin thinning.
Include superfoods like white tea, soy, grape seed extract  and nutrients like tocopherols, zinc and ascorbic acid to prevent thinning of skin.
How To Prevent Thinning Of Skin?
- Always keep your skin protected from the sun. Wear sunscreen (SPF 30 and above), use an umbrella and wear long sleeved clothes during the day.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Dry skin can worsen your thin skin.
- Follow a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants to prevent skin thinning. Dr. Zeel adds, “Ensure your diet is devoid of refined carbs, simple sugars, high amounts of salt and fat.”
- Quit alcohol and smoking.
- Exercise and practise yoga daily to improve blood circulation. Face yoga can also help prevent thinning of skin under the eyes and on the face.
- Avoid using harsh cleansers and physical exfoliators that can damage skin.
- Stop using topical corticosteroids. Request your dermatologist for a change of medication.
- Wear breathable fabrics that are soft on the skin.
- Include hydrating skincare products like moisturizers, body creams and mists to keep your skin moisturized all day.
- Use anti-aging herbal products that help boost collagen production.
How Do I Know If My Skin Is Thin Or Thick?
Has a flattened appearance
Appears plump and youthful
Tears and bruises easily when faced with minor skin trauma like friction/ pressure
Can withstand minor skin traumas
Delayed wound healing
Quick wound healing
Appears transparent. Has visible tendons, veins and blood capillaries
Does not look transparent
Wrinkles when pulled or stretched. Feels paper-like when touched
Returns to its original shape after being stretched
The Last Word
- Thinning of skin is not a serious medical issue especially if it is age-related.
- Protecting your skin from direct sun rays can help prevent skin thinning.
- Quit smoking and alcohol consumption to quickly heal your thin skin.
- Herbal anti-aging and moisturizing remedies are effective and safe for treating skin thinning.
- However, always know about your skin type and consult a dermatologist before opting for any treatment.
1. Dermatoporosis- The Chronic Cutaneous Fragility Syndrome, 2019 August
2. Dermatoporosis: A Chronic Cutaneous Insufficiency/ Fragility Syndrome, 2007 February
3. Dermatoporosis, a prevalent skin condition affecting the elderly: current situation and potential treatments, 2019
4. Inhaled Corticosteroids- Watch for Skin Atrophy, 2004 March
6. Genetic polymorphisms and skin aging: the identification of population genotypic groups holds potential for personalized treatments, 2014 July
7. UV Damage of Collagen: Insights from Model Collagen Peptides, 2012 March
8. Gottron Syndrome
9. Caring For Your Skin In Menopause
10. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging, 2012 July
11. Role of micronutrients in skin health and function, 2015 May
12. Ascorbate requirement for hydroxylation and secretion of procollagen: relationship to inhibition of collagen synthesis in scurvy, 1991 December
13. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health, 2017 August
14. PA01.59. Evaluation of rasayana effect of vayasthapana drugs, 2012 December
15. Grape Seed Extract
16. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety, 2006 December
17. Supplementation with a complex of active nutrients improved dermal and epidermal characteristics in skin equivalents generated from fibroblasts from young or aged donors
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