Researchers conducted a study comparing the healing response of individuals over the age of 70 and adults under the age of 40, in equal groups of 18, to small lesions on the skin. The older patients experienced a more protracted wound closure process because of a differing effectiveness of their eccrine sweat glands.
It was previously understood that eccrine glands are important contributors to the healing process, generating new cells to replace those lost in whatever injury has taken place. Similarly, it was well-established that older people sweat less than their more youthful counterparts, so it stood to reason that the eccrine glands experienced a deterioration of effectiveness in other duties.
What somewhat surprised researchers was the underlying issue. The older patients’ sweat glands weren’t significantly less active than those of the younger patients, but the general degradation of the more aged skin lessened its ability to support the freshly generated cells. In a public release, lead author Laura Rittié, Ph.D., notes, “This tells us that, beyond the frustrating appearance, skin aging also negatively impacts the ability of the skin to repair itself.”