Thin skin and crepey skin are two conditions that are often confused for each other. Crepey skin is thinned skin that has the consistency of crepe paper and looks wrinkly. Thin skin is the term that is used for the layers of the epidermis that has lost their thickness and plumpness due to sun damage or aging. These skin conditions are more common in older adults and can be the result of neglecting one’s skin health or genetic predispositions.
Thin skin is skin that has thinned or appears thinned. It’s often characterized by the healthcare industry as dry, damaged, or wrinkled. Some people with thin skin bruise easily; on others, the skin tears more easily, and these people are more prone to cuts or bleeding.
Crepey skin is skin that is dry, damaged, or wrinkled. It looks like crepe paper (thin and wrinkled). The causes of crepey skin usually include aging, an unbalanced diet, genetic predispositions, and dehydration.
The good news is that both thin skin and crepey skin can usually be reversed through positive lifestyle changes, good habits, and a solid skincare regimen.
The causes of thin skin and crepey skin are very similar, as these two conditions have a lot in common.
The top causes of thin skin are:
Certain OTC Medications
Aging is the no. 1 cause of thinning skin. As we age, our skin loses its collagen (which gives skin its elasticity).
Collagen is the protein that allows your skin to depress when you push it and jump back to its original plump structure.
As you age, you’ll probably start to notice your skin isn’t as plump or elastic as it used to be. Some women don’t experience this, and this is largely because of genetics and some lifestyle choices.
If other members of your family suffer from thin skin and collagen loss, chances are that you will too.
Overexposure to the sun (and often other elements) can often thin the skin, too. If you live in a sunny, windy, or cold climate, you may be more susceptible to thin skin.
You’re also at a higher risk of developing thin skin if you regularly use a tanning bed (UV not spray tan).
In fact, sun and UV overexposure is one of the leading causes of skin conditions in general. If you are exposed to UV rays, you’re more likely to develop sunspots, melanoma, and melasma.
Conversely, the wind and extreme cold can also deplete your skin’s ability to produce collagen, too.
If you routinely take some medications (mostly over-the-counter ones), you’re at a higher risk of developing thin skin, too.
The most common medications that lead to thin skin if taken too often include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
If you’re taking any of the above medications because you were advised to do so by your doctor, don’t stop taking them until you’ve talked to a medical professional. Blood thinners and corticosteroids are life-saving medications. Aspirin is also often used as a blood thinner and can be life-saving.
If you’re taking NSAIDs or aspirin to manage pain, talk to your doctor about alternative medications or lifestyle changes.
Several lifestyle factors may also contribute to crepey skin. These factors include:
Not enough exercise
Overindulging in alcohol (or unhealthy levels of alcohol) can dehydrate the skin and lead to thin skin over time. Not only can it thin your skin over time, but it can also enlarge your pores and lead to wrinkles in the meantime.
When you drink too much, alcohol can negatively affect your mucus membranes. Alcohol can also lead to inflammation, which can cause facial redness, such as rosacea.
Most of these lifestyle choices lead to the dehydration of your skin. See a pattern here? Pretty much anything that leads to dehydration can cause the skin to thin and age faster.
It’s important to drink enough water each day, eat foods that are hydrating, and take supplements. Your skin needs water to stay plump and firm, and it gets that water from food and drink.
Avoiding dehydrating lifestyle choices is also important (like nicotine, processed foods, and stimulants).
Everything we put in our bodies can affect our systems — yes, including the skin. Eating too many processed foods and simple carbs (read: sugar) can lead to thin skin.
Sugar can actually damage your collagen and elastin, making them brittle and dry. When this happens, your skin can’t bounce back in the way it used to. Not only can it weaken your collagen, but it can actually even damage the cells altogether.
Getting 30 minutes of exercise each day is super important (even for your skin). Exercise can increase your blood flow, sends oxygen to your skin, and removes toxins and waste.
Don’t get the recommended 30 minutes a day? No problem! The good news is that it’s never too late to start exercising. You can actually reverse the signs of aging by starting an exercise regimen!
Smoking is a toxin that can dry out the skin, attack free radicals, and introduce toxins into the body.
Tobacco contains more than 4,000 chemicals! These chemicals damage both collagen and elastin. But the good news is that if you stop smoking, the body can usually restart the production of collagen and repair old cells.
Crepey skin and thin skin have a lot in common. Crepey skin is often thin, but thin skin isn’t always crepey (do you follow?).
Crepey skin is essentially skin that sags. It can be thin or thick (but is often thin). What does that mean in terms of its causes? That it shares most causes with thin skin. All of the above causes of thin skin are also causes of crepey skin.
The biggest difference? Crepey skin is also often caused by dramatic weight-loss.
When you lose dramatic amounts of weight, your skin can look saggy. For most, the skin may catch up to the weight-loss and eventually ‘bounce back’ to its original shape. But that doesn’t always happen.
Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to prevent thin and crepey skin. Even if you’ve already started seeing your skin go thin or crepey, you’ll still want to incorporate some of these preventative lifestyle changes into your routine. (Yes, even if you’re planning on getting an in-office or prescription treatment).
Even if you pride yourself on being a sun goddess, you’ll want to start avoiding the harmful UV rays of the sun (and yes, the tanning bed, too!). Wear sunscreen with a high SPF and wear long, layered clothes to protect your arms and hands from the sun. Wear long sleeves to protect your upper arms.
We also recommend adding a layer of protection to your face by wearing a brimmed hat if you plan on going outside for prolonged periods of time.
Even if you live in a humid climate, you’ll want to moisturize your skin. Use a moisturizer that’s pH balanced for your skin type so it doesn’t clog your pores or weigh your skin down.
At night, use a serum to give your dermis an extra dose of hydration.
Sometimes you just can’t get all the nutrients your body needs through food. If you’re unable to get all your vitamins in your diet, you may want to consider taking supplements — especially ones that support your collagen and elastin.
Vitamin C and vitamin A can help support your collagen. Want to just get more collagen? Try Vital Proteins, a collagen supplement you can add to your coffee or water.
Don’t know if you’re getting enough of the above vitamins? Order a nutrient at-home testing kit panel to find out if you need more or fewer nutrients.
You can take all the supplements you want, but they won’t work if you don’t eat a balanced diet.
Eat plenty of good fats and leafy greens to support your collagen and elastin production. Try to steer clear of too many processed foods, simple carbs (white rice, pasta, crackers, cakes, etc.), and sugar.
Drink the recommended amount of water per day. Eat plenty of foods with high levels of water (think fruits and veggies). Replenish the moisture in your skin by using a good moisturizer that’s pH balanced to your skin type.
Drink no more than two alcoholic beverages per day. Try to alternate alcoholic beverages with water. Take part in ‘dry January’ or even choose one week of the month that you plan to abstain from alcohol altogether.
If there were ever a reason to finally quit smoking, this is it! Not only can nicotine take years away from your life, but it can also add years to your skin. There’s really only one way to ‘cut down’ on nicotine, and that’s to quit altogether.
Make sure you’re exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes a day (on average) every day of the week. Need to boost your workout times? Download a fitness app or wear a fitness band or smartwatch to encourage your subconscious to take a few extra steps each day.
Sign up for a 5k (there are plenty of virtual ones available for exercising in the times of COVID), or, sign up for a Zoom exercise class.
If you’re taking blood thinners, NSAIDs, or aspirin, talk to your doctor about alternatives — or how you can help your skin boost its production of collagen while taking these medications.
If you’re already experiencing thin skin or crepey skin, the above lifestyle changes will only get you so far. You may want to consider opting for an at-home prescription skincare routine or heading to a dermatology office for an in-office treatment.
If you don’t want to head to a dermatologist’s office for invasive treatments, you’re in luck. There are plenty of at-home skincare products that have fast-acting results that stack up to laser, microdermabrasion, and pulsed light treatments.
Did you know you can get prescription skincare right from your own home? If you need a body lotion, cleanser, or spot treatment for thin skin, fragile skin, dry skin, or crepey skin, you don’t need to make a special trip all the way to the dermatologist’s office anymore.
These products contain ingredients like glycolic acid, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and retinol to help lighten, thicken, and firm skin.
If your skin doesn’t respond to at-home anti-aging treatments, you may want to make a trip to a dermatologist.
Doctors use technology, such as lasers, ultrasound machines, and cool-sculpting procedures to help firm up skin, encourage collagen growth, and tighten the layers of your dermis.
These treatments can be a little more invasive than most topical treatments (and often involve the heating of the skin or underneath the skin), so you may want to try one of the above at-home treatments first.
If you suffer from thin skin, you may want to try a photo facial. These ‘facials’ use intense pulsed light therapy (IPL) or photodynamic therapy (PDT) to rejuvenate the skin, firm up the dermis, and banish fine lines.
While this type of treatment is less invasive than laser, cool-sculpting, and ultrasound treatments, it can be more costly than at-home treatments.