Why Crepey Skin is Different From Other Types of Skin Aging

Call it what you will: elephant skin, paper-thin skin or grandma skin—it’s all the same, and it’s all crepey. “Crepey skin is one of the most difficult signs of skin aging to prevent because it has so many different causes and can occur on so many different parts of the body,” says New York dermatologist Macrene Alexiades, MD. But, just because your skin is starting to have a mind of its own and lacks the firmness it used to have, doesn’t mean you have to live with it like that.

Why Your Skin Ages

As you enter your 40s, the thinning of your skin accelerates. This isn’t a change you’ll see overnight—it’s likely to take weeks, or even months, for the texture of your skin to transform. Melbourne, FL, dermatologist Anita Saluja, MDsays there are a few elements that cause skin to become crepey. “The sun, a loss of collagen and elastin, and a decline in moisture due to aging, can all cause changes in texture.” Crepey skin becomes more pronounced when there’s a significant amount of fat loss in the area (from aging or weight loss). “Chronic use of medications like steroids can also be a causative factor,” adds Dr. Saluja. A decrease in female hormones, which leads to dry skin, contributes to crepiness on the arms and thighs more so than the face. Hormonal replacement therapies may help improve the look of the skin.

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What it Looks Like 
Skin that has turned crepey is thin, loose and flaccid with a certain degree of sagging. Sacramento, CA, dermatologist Suzanne Kilmer, MD, says that crepey skin doesn’t look nearly as thick or plump as younger skin does. Often compared to the thinness of a piece of paper or a crêpe, it’s the thinning of the dermis and epidermis that make skin look like this. “Crepey skin differs from other types of skin aging,” says Dr. Alexiades. “It first appears as an increase in skin markings, which look like little dots around the hair follicle that start to merge into linear or diamond-shaped marks and connect the dots together.” Over time, the subtle creases and pores in the skin slowly become exaggerated as the breakdown of collagen and elastin becomes more evident. From there, skin folds accumulate and skin starts to thin out. Whereas a stretch mark is the cause of a dermal tear in the skin and a loss of elastin, and a wrinkle forms from repeat motions in one area, crepey skin is more so the result of a lack of skin thickness.

Who it Effects
Everyone is susceptible to crepey skin, but some skin tones and types are more likely to experience it than others. Anyone who’s prone to sun damage and has little melanin in their skin—think fair- and lighter-toned types—and those who bake in the sun or use tanning beds, may see signs of it faster or more intensely. Certain ethnicities, such as Latinas, African Americans and Asians, inherently have thicker skin than others, which may hinder the effects of crepiness to some degree.

7 Comments
  • kelly
    Posted on

    I'm only 56 and my creepy skin is severe on my forearms. I am at a loss in what to do. Currently using ablation and alphahydroxy. I get skin tears as well as purpura! Help

  • Mi
    Posted on

    I just ordered some amlecton lotion. Fingers are crossed

  • Katie Mueller
    Posted on

    Supplement with Collagen (I would use a Paleo-approved collagen as they have higher standards of manufacture), drink a gallon of water each day, stay out of sun, moisturize, don't eat sugar (except in fruits, as it breaks down collagen faster), don't drink caffeine, eat lots of dark green leafy greens (and other foods that boost collagen production), meditate & laugh a lot to reduce stress levels. Exercise to boost circulation of nutrients to skin and organs. Follow Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, as they also have methods to enhance skin health and herbs that can help retain skin moisture and health. They have a free podcast... search in iTunes under "Jing Herbs podcast" about Chinese Herbs for skin. I recommend organic Schisandra berry powder in a hot tea (from MountainRoseHerbs.com), and I sometimes make quinoa cooked with Schisandra and Goji Berry powder in order to increase their absorption in the GI tract. These are not one-offs, and you have to do these things on a regular basis, and not just for two weeks. Results take months to pay off. The body is slow to respond.

  • name
    Posted on

    Eat lots of jello, hydrate, exercise avoid over-exposure to the Sun and avoid alcohol is what I do but visit your Doctor to see what's best for you.

  • Linda
    Posted on

    That is EXACtLY what I was wondering....

  • Meri
    Posted on

    Exactly what I was thinking. That's the point in me reading this article

  • Susan
    Posted on

    But how can you correct it?

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