What causes shiny skin on the shin

Thin skin - causes, symptoms and therapy

When our skin thins, we often feel severe itching and tension in the affected areas; in addition, the skin dries out faster than usual. Even slight scratches bleed and the thinned skin becomes easily inflamed.

Skin: our largest organ

The skin is the largest organ, almost two square meters in size and weighing up to 20 kg. One square centimeter contains 15 sebum glands, 100 sweat glands, 3000 nerve end cells, 1 meter of blood vessels and several million cells.

The skin protects the internal organs, muscles and bones from external damage. It holds the body system together and marks a clear boundary to the environment. It acts as a shield against viruses, bacteria and fungi, heat, sun, cold and attacks.

This “protective wall” is also extremely active. The skin produces vitamin D from the sun's rays, it carries water and fat into the organism.

The "skin filter" can be used medicinally: creams, oils, lotions, therapeutic baths and healing earth applied to the skin, supply the body with beneficial substances. Hormone patches or nicotine patches work through the skin.

Skin cells show the temperature, inform the brain about pain stimuli and shield UV light.

When does skin look beautiful?

Skin is considered beautiful when its pores are small, there are no flakes, pimples or boils on it, when it reflects light evenly, contains a little oil, shines and wrinkles. Too much oil on the skin is just as unaesthetic as dry skin.

Our perception can be explained evolutionarily: dandruff, pimples and boils can indicate underlying diseases, dry and dull skin firstly to age, secondly to diseases - or to both.

Causes of Thinner Skin

Thin skin is often not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying disease. Metabolism and blood circulation disorders can also be associated with thinned skin. Such an underlying disease can also be recognized by the specific condition of the skin: In the case of a liver disorder, the thinned skin turns yellow, for example, and the mucous membranes and tongue are also affected.

Thinner skin can also indicate Lyme disease. With Lyme disease, arms and legs are particularly affected.

Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and butterfly whitefish also lead to thin skin, as do skin diseases such as psoriasis and neurodermatitis. The immune system attacks the body's own tissue because it classifies it as "foreign". So far, nobody knows how these diseases arise.

In the case of Cushing's syndrome, however, we know the cause: It is caused by too much cortisol - a hormone. The parchment skin is only a symptom here, plus severe thirst, muscle weakness, acne and boils.

Cortisone, a relative of cortisol administered as a drug, also thins the skin, and insulin, which patients with diabetes mellitus inject, promotes a parchment skin.

Parchment skin

Old age is not a disease; our skin ages in young adulthood, and with it it also becomes thinner. We cannot stop this process, but we can moderate it.

For the skin, aging means that the papillae between the epidermis and the dermis change. Blood vessels in these papillae supply the epidermis with nutrients, oxygen and fluids. In young people, these papillae are close together and long - the skin is plump and smooth. In older people, the papillae flatten and become fewer.

The older we get, the less collagen and elastin the body produces, which means that the skin loses its elasticity: we get wrinkles.

Nutrients and oxygen now only slowly reach the top layer of the skin: our skin looks dull.

Skin care

Those who already suffer from so-called parchment skin can, for example, use lukewarm water instead of hot. Because water that is too warm dries out the skin further. Soft towels are gentle on dry skin; those affected should dab them off instead of rubbing them off. When showering, we recommend moisturizing products.

Water-in-oil emulsions are suitable for thin skin and support the balance between oil and moisture. Such products should be free from perfume and alcohol, as both of them will further dry out the skin.

Older people often forget to drink. In doing so, they encourage the skin to become increasingly thinner. Taking a glass of water in between helps.


Firstly, thin skin hurts more easily than “thick fur”, and secondly, the wounds heal poorly. Even slight friction, a blow or a bump can cause the skin to tear. The injured skin regenerates slowly.

Wound dressings should have a silicone layer or stick themselves, grease gauze and plasters, on the other hand, can tear the wound further.

Dermis and epidermis

The dermis is the dermis, the epidermis the surface of the skin. As the skin ages, the cell metabolism in the epidermis slows down and the body produces fewer lipids.

The skin becomes rougher and dries. Wrinkles form and the skin is more sensitive to UV rays, wounds heal more slowly, and the body is less able to fight off infection.

The percentage of collagen in the dermis decreases by 1% per year. The subcutaneous tissue becomes less elastic and the blood supply is poor.

The skin loses its rosy hue and wrinkles appear.

Thinner skin shows up externally in deeper folds, so the skin loses its contour. It becomes duller and paler.

External factors

Sunlight weakens and dries out the skin, and smoking causes the skin to get less oxygen - it also breaks down collagen and elastin. So smoking intensifies the natural aging process.

Which substances help?

Skin aging is due, among other things, to oxidative stress. Put simply, this means that there are too many compounds that react to oxygen, i.e. superoxide anion radical, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical.

Normally cells neutralize oxidizing substances by creating a "depot" with these substances. If they are no longer able to do this, the species that react to oxygen prevent the cell from detoxifying.

Some "beauty companies" advertise topically applied antioxidants. This should prevent the loss of skin volume and wrinkles: Arctiin, an active ingredient from the burdock fruit, promotes the regeneration of skin cells and gives thin skin a stronger elasticity, and Apiaceae peptides also improve the elasticity of the skin.

Caution: A benefit from antioxidants in food supplements has not been proven in any study. Rather, meta-studies indicate the opposite: The reactive oxygen species are presumably not only “toxic waste”, but above all elementary messenger substances.

Antioxidants do not differentiate between “good” and “bad” reactive oxygen species, but act like “the ax in the forest”.

What to do?

If a doctor successfully treats the underlying disease, the skin also regenerates. Aging skin, on the other hand, cannot be “cured”.

You can prevent thin skin with sufficient exercise, little alcohol and cigarettes, moisturizing creams and economical use of the sun and solariums. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
  • Peter Fritsch; Thomas Schwarz: Dermatology Venereology: Basics. Clinic. Atlas, Springer, 2018
  • Beat Hintermann: Endoprosthetics of the Ankle Joint Historical overview, current therapy concepts and developments, Springer, 2005
  • Springer Medicine (Ed.) "Pressure relief on parchment skin", in Heilberufe, Volume 68 Issue 4, 2016, Springer Link
  • Renate Lüllmann-Rauch, Friedrich Paulsen: Pocket Textbook Histology, Thieme, 2012

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.