1. Home
  2. |
  3. Blog
  4. |
  5. Thin Skin: Causes, Treatments & Prevention

Skin tends to become thin because of various factors like lifestyle, sun damage, medications, and aging. While it’s common to find thin skin on the hands, with age, you can also develop thin skin on the face, legs, and arms.

In this article, we enlighten you about the many causes of having thin skin and its possible treatments. Read on to learn more.

What Is Thin Skin?

For everyone, the skin is naturally thinner on some parts of the body. Did you know that your eyelids are only 0.05 mm thick? [1]

Sometimes referred to as fragile skin, thin skin is skin that easily cracks, bruises, or tears. When you have paper-thin skin, it develops an appearance like tissue paper, known as crepey skin.

The texture of your skin is divided into three layers, namely:

1. The epidermis, which is the outermost visible layer, acts as a barrier between the outside world and essential organs like muscles, tissues, etc.

2. The next layer is the dermis. It contains all the oil and sweat glands, nerve endings, connective tissues, lymph vessels, and hair follicles.

3. The last layer is the hypodermis or subcutis. This layer provides your body with insulation and keeps you warm. It also doubles as a cushion of sorts that acts as a shock absorber for your vital organs.

The dermis is what affects the thickness of your skin. With skin thinning, the epidermis isn’t as thick as it is supposed to be. Plus, the hypodermis layer of this skin type has a lesser amount of fat, which leads to a thinner layer.

Typically, if you are predisposed to thinner skin, you will notice veins and tendons on the back of your hands and forearms. Genetics play a significant role in determining how thick your skin appears.

SkinKraft Tip

Constant hydration through moisturizer helps keep the top layer intact, so it’s less likely to crack and open to infection.

What Causes Thin Skin?

While it's not the most critical factor, one contributor for thin skin is genetics.

Ultraviolet light has the most significant impact on how thin your skin gets. Your skin reacts with the sun, where the dermis loses its elasticity.

With time, this effect compounds, and the skin's ability to bounce back decreases and with it the thickness of the dermis.

Bruising and wrinkles follow skin thinning. The lack of elasticity leaves the blood vessels without any support to rebound. Cue the appearance of aged skin.

But what if you don't tan, get moles or freckles easily? Irrespective of great skin, UV light still thins your skin. Whether you're commuting to work with your hands on the wheel or just running errands, every time you're in the sun without sunscreen, UV light silently damages your skin.

Aging is another cause of paper-thin skin on your body. Like sun damage, as you age, your skin becomes less firm or elastic, and your body creates fewer cells to replace injured, dying, or dead cells.

Treatments For Thin Skin

Unfortunately, thin skin is quite impossible to reverse. But what you can do is take care of your skin thinning. Using a moisturizer is the most effective way. Moisturizing makes the skin more flexible and less prone to damage due to stress.

If you have thin skin, it’s best to avoid makeup and bleach, which may make the skin inflamed and red.

Creams that contain vitamin A (retinol or retinoids) can help protect thin skin on your hands, arms, and other parts from getting thinner. Retinol has the ability to normalize the thickness of the skin. [2] But remember, you need to use it with care, preferably after consulting with a doctor. Similarly, collagen boosters possess skin thickening properties and are quite beneficial.

A well-balanced diet and protecting your skin from the sun can help with thin skin. Foods high in vitamin E like almonds, nuts, and avocados support skin health.

Dry skin can get irritated easily and is more prone to damage when it is less flexible. Drink plenty of water to ensure your skin remains hydrated and fresh.

How Do You Prevent Skin From Thinning As You Age?

Thin skin is a natural consequence of aging in most people. While you cannot entirely prevent it, a few habits can help slow down the process.

UV light does not cause harm to your skin in a single day. It’s a cumulative effect. You need to apply sunscreen daily to your hands, face, neck, arms, and other parts of your body. If you are between the age group of 20-30, prevention is key.

Other things you can do to prevent and protect thin skin include:

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • When you are outside, use a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 15. Apply generously for the first time and re-apply every two hours.
  • When you’re out in the sun, wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats to protect your forearms, legs, and face.
  • Use a nourishing moisturizer to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated
  • Talk to your dermatologist about possible treatment options

Difference Between Thin And Thick Skin - Thin Skin Vs Thick Skin

 

Thin skin

Thick skin

Occurrence

Thin skin can cover nearly the entire body.

You can find thick skin on the palms of your hands, feet, and the lining of your toes and fingers.

The thickness of the epidermis

Thin skin has a thin epidermis with a thin, granular layer, thin Malpighian layer, and very thin horny layer. Thin skin does not have a lucidum layer (translucent layer of the epidermis).

Thick skin has a thick epidermis with a thick granular layer, thick Malpighian layer, and very thick horny layer. Thick skin also has a lucidum layer.

Hair follicles

Thin skin contains hair follicles.

Thick skin lacks hair follicles.

Arrector Pili Muscles (small muscles attached to hair follicles)

Thin skins have arrector pili.

Thick skin lacks arrector pili muscles.

Dermis

Thin skin has a thicker dermis.

Thick skin has a thin dermis.

Sebaceous glands

Thin skin contains sebaceous glands.

Thick skin does not contain sebaceous glands.

Sweat glands

Thin skin has fewer sweat glands than thick skin.

Thick skin has numerous, spirally coiled sweat glands.

Sensory receptors

Thin skin has sparser sensory receptors.

Thick skin has dense sensory receptors.

Ridges and furrows (the unique appearance of the on your palms, fingerprints, and soles)

Thin skin lacks ridges and furrows on the surface.

Thick skin contains both ridges and furrows on the surface.

Dermal papillae

Thin skin contains irregular dermal papillae.

Thick skin contains regular dermal papillae.

Functional significance

Thin skin performs the other functions of the skin.

Thick skin is more restricted to mechanical abrasion.

How Can You Tell If Your Skin Is Thinning?

Thin skin on the hands and other parts of the body looks paper-thin and almost transparent. You may be able to see tendons, bones, or veins clearly.

You can easily damage thin skin. So, if your skin bruises or tears after minor injuries, there are chances that you have thin skin.

You will not wake up one day and suddenly realize your skin is thinner. It’s a gradual process. If you bruised or got sunburnt earlier, there are higher chances of your skin becoming thin in the future. Scratches and bruises take longer to heal and, at times, bleed more than usual.

Another sign you may have thin skin is if you easily get infections. Your immune response slows down, which causes infections to spread quickly and heal at a slower pace.

SkinKraft Tip

Those with thin skin should keep an eye out for bruises, scrapes, or cuts as they can become infected quickly. It’s important to regularly clean and change the dressing to keep the area germ-free.

If aging causes thin skin, there’s probably no need to visit a doctor. But if you find many bruises on your skin or anything out of the ordinary, you should get it checked to rule out anything serious.

Wrapping Up

Your skin is at the mercy of many forces as you age - unhealthy habits, harsh weather conditions, and the sun's UV rays. While it's not in your hands to control how your skin ages, you can take the right measures to keep it looking youthful and supple.

The key to effectively combating the process of skin thinning is to understand what causes it and take preventive measures early on.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin