The study of skin ageing, which is the subject of this L’Institut Servier symposium, falls in line with previous presentations.
Indeed, in 2003 a meeting was dedicated to vulnerability, fragility and ageing; in 2007 another focused on the study of states of functional dependence, and sarcopenia and muscle ageing were proposed in 2012. A continuous increase in life expectancy, which, it must be said, enables the French to live an extra trimester per year, is not just an advantage. Indeed, ensuring healthy ageing with minimal disability, and not just minimizing the resulting economic burden, should be the objective mobilizing the whole community, especially the medical profession and policy makers. This concept is far from new, as it has already been expressed in the works of Hippocrates!
Improved living conditions, nutrition and hygiene have contributed as much as scientific progress to the dramatic and ongoing results that have pushed back the age of functional dependency. However, the efforts made have not been the same according to the organs considered: if cardiovascular, bronchopulmonary and skeletal ageing, type 2 diabetes and metabolic diseases have attracted considerable interest, the same cannot be said for the study of skin, which more often makes the headlines of women’s magazines than those of medical publications. If the myth of eternal youth has also affected men since the time of Dr Faust, clinical trials for Brown–Sequard syndrome and the more recent advent of Viagra, the deification of our solar star has been highly controversial. The ill-considered development of tanning booths justified a warning from the National Academy of Medicine because, behind a deceptive mask of apparent good health, sacrificing everything for fashion and aesthetics also runs the undue risk of deadly skin diseases.However, it is enlightening to consider critically, even sardonically, the differences in opinion between dermatologists and rheumatologists. The latter have taught the medical profession, following on from paediatricians, that vitamin D deficiency, which causes many health disasters affecting not just the bones and joints, cannot be resolved by standard nutrition, while reasonable and sensible sun exposure is effective. Again, a report by the Academy of Medicine reiterated the need for common sense and the limitation of the concept.
This meeting was organized by Camille Francès, who is going to outline the key aspects broadly. The skin, an organ that protects the interior body from the exterior environment, not only undergoes changes in appearance over the years, but also altered functions with an increased risk of cancer. The influence of genetic and external factors such as sun exposure cannot be denied, even if it is known that sun exposure has a beneficial effect not only on the osteoarticular system but also mental health. The first part of the day will be dedicated to the influence of ageing on the functional properties of the skin, dermatoporosis, healing abilities and carcinogenesis. The rapidly developing field of skin pharmacology will then be discussed. The meeting will then consider the possibilities of repair and means of evaluation. Finally, there will be a psychiatrist’s opinion on the myth of eternal youth, largely perpetuated by modern society.