Inflammaging is a term used to describe aging induced by chronic inflammation.
When it comes to our skin health, inflammaging breaks down our skin’s architecture, speeding up the breakdown of skin cells such as collagen and elastin fibers, and other anti-aging molecules – the cellular matrix responsible for keeping our skin youthful and healthy. The more chronic, low-grade inflammation we have in our skin, the more likely it is for healthy skin to break down.
Common symptoms of inflammaging may include red, flakey, irritated skin, premature aging, and even skin cancer.
Chronic inflammation can also have a dangerous impact on our health, causing our skin’s barrier and microbiome to weaken.
Typically, our skin acts as a protective shield, a line of defense from the outside world and what we encounter daily. Acute inflammation is a healthy response our skin creates to heal and protect from foreign substances, extrinsic factors like pollution, or bacteria. When chronically inflamed, our immune system must work harder to protect our skin and repair it. This creates an increased risk of bacteria and viruses penetrating our skin’s natural barrier.
While some skin changes are normal as we age, chronic inflammation is scientifically proven to speed this process up.
For example, our skin naturally begins to lose collagen in our late 20s, and typically continues to decrease 1-2% every year after. Inflammaging prompts the loss of collagen to begin earlier and continues at an accelerated rate.
The good news? We can prevent and correct inflammaging.
Most chronic inflammation in our skin is due to lifestyle choices we have complete control over. To get your inflammaging under control consider these small, but powerful shifts to your daily routines:
- Reduce or eliminate consumption of inflammatory foods
- Always wear sunscreen
- Take an inventory of your skincare products and toss the ones containing harmful ingredients
- Reduce your consumption of alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Reduce intrinsic/extrinsic oxidative stress
By taking simple yet effective steps to reduce our inflammation, we can proactively step into aging gracefully.