What Are the Causes of Thinning Facial Skin?

You don’t necessarily need to be elderly or a sun worshiper to end up with thinning skin. In fact, thinning facial skin can come about from a number of different factors, or any combination of them. Thin facial skin often appears translucent with visible blood vessels and is prone to cuts and tearing.

Growing Old

The aging process is one of the major causes of thinning facial skin, note the Skin Care Physicians and Riverside Online websites 1. Your skin not only becomes thinner, but it also loses its elastin, which gives it elasticity, and the protective layer of fat that used to cushion it and keep it firm. Older skin produces less collagen and has a tougher time shedding old skin cells and producing new ones. Although aging starts as early as the mid-20s, you usually don’t notice its effects until you are much older. The intrinsic aging process speeds up dramatically due to a number of factors, such as sun exposure, which also leads to thinning skin.

Sun Worship

Excessive, unprotected sun exposure can wreak havoc on skin, Riverside Online's website explains. Harmful UV rays penetrate the skin’s outer layer, breaking down components in the deeper layers. Two of those components are collagen and elastin. Repeated unprotected sun exposure at any age starts the process but, as with intrinsic aging, you might not notice the effects until years later.

Medications and Conditions

A number of medications and medical conditions have thinning skin as side effects. One of the most notorious group of medications that thin your skin are corticosteroids, a type of steroid you can take orally or apply topically. Used for conditions like eczema, corticosteroids soothe inflamed skin and come in cream or tablet forms. Medical conditions that lead to thinning skin include bleeding disorders, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and amyloidosis.


Like intrinsic aging and certain medical conditions, you have no control over genetics, another factor in thinning facial skin. Genetics may not cause thinning skin per se, but it does play a part in your skin’s makeup and how it reacts to aging and sun exposure. Although you have no control over your genetics, you do have ways to protect your facial skin. Avoiding excessive sun exposure or wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 helps protect your skin from UV rays. Keeping your facial skin moisturized is also helpful.