“Crepey skin” refers to skin that looks thin, wrinkled, and similar in appearance to crepe paper. Causes include aging, UV radiation, and more. Using sun protection, moisturizing the skin, and applying topical retinoids may help manage it.

Although similar to wrinkles in many ways, crepey skin is a different skin condition that can occur as people age or due to genetic and environmental factors.

This article explains the causes and risk factors for crepey skin, as well as information about treatment, prevention, and what this condition looks like.

Below are some images of crepey skin.

Natural aging causes fine lines and wrinkled skin, but other factors can lead to crepey skin. Another potential cause is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that exposure to UV radiation is the most preventable cause of early skin damage.

This damage can result from exposure to the sun or the use of tanning beds. Over time, UV radiation will break down the elasticity of the skin. With normal elasticity, after the skin stretches, it can quickly bounce back to its usual position.

When skin loses its elasticity due to UV damage, it becomes laxer after stretching and does not quickly return to its previous position.

While the skin has the ability to heal, long-term exposure to UV radiation will make the skin laxer, less elastic, and less able to completely repair any damage.

Other causes

Other factors that may cause crepey skin or affect skin elasticity may include:

Some genetic conditions may also cause premature symptoms of aging or disrupt skin integrity, including:

However, these conditions are rare and also cause many more visible and systemic issues.

Age and skin type can predispose a person to crepey skin, but other factors can also play a role.

Genetics may contribute to how fast a person’s skin ages, which may affect the extent and age they experience symptoms such as crepey skin.

Environmental factors, such as increased exposure to UV rays or cigarette smoke, may also increase a person’s risk of crepey skin.

In addition, these factors may increase the risk of developing other skin conditions.

For example, UV exposure also increases the risk of skin cancer. Most skin cancers occur due to UV damage to the skin, with the most common types being basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

The following steps may help people protect their skin against premature aging and crepey skin.

Sun protection

The most effective way to prevent skin damage is to protect the skin from UV exposure. People can do this by:

  • seeking shade
  • wearing sun-protective clothing
  • wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when outside during daylight hours

The AAD recommends that people with sensitive skin use physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, which contain titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or both.

As people age, it is essential that they adapt their skin care routines accordingly. With age, a person’s skin may be more prone to irritation and inflammation.

Exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds damages the DNA of skin cells, which can lead to premature skin aging and skin cancer. Experts advise people not to use them.


People can keep their skin hydrated by using a good moisturizer to trap water under the skin.

Another component a person can incorporate into their skincare routine is hyaluronic acid, a hydrating ingredient in many cosmetic products.


Using topical creams containing retinol can help improve the skin’s elasticity and increase collagen production in the skin. Retinoids help skin cells regenerate faster, which might reduce the chance of developing crepey skin.

However, it is best to use a small amount and moisturize immediately afterward, as retinol can dry out the skin. A person can find retinol in prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) forms.

Another ingredient in some topical creams is peptides. These act as a signal to tell the skin it is damaged and to make new collagen, which helps firm the skin.

People can find this ingredient in either OTC or prescription topical creams, depending on the concentration.


What people eat can affect their skin. To try and reduce the chances of developing crepey skin, people can include the following in a balanced diet:

Home remedies

Home remedies that encourage a healthful lifestyle and reduce stress may prevent or slow the onset of crepey skin for some people, including the following:

Some people may also feel that their skin texture improves with exfoliation. However, people who wish to try this should avoid over-exfoliating, as this can lead to skin damage.

Anyone who wants to try home remedies should talk with their dermatologist first.

People with crepey skin can speak with their dermatologist to learn the best treatment for them.

Crepey skin can occur as a person ages and does not necessarily require treatment. However, if people do not like how it looks, the following options may reduce the appearance of crepey skin.

OTC products

Many OTC products contain retinol, which is a member of the vitamin A family.

Products containing alpha hydroxy acids can positively affect skin elasticity and may help reduce wrinkles. Some alpha hydroxy acids a dermatologist may mention include:

It is important to use these products as directed, stop using them if they sting or burn, and avoid overuse. Also, people should give them time to work as some can take months before having any effect.


Tretinoin is a topical retinoid prescription cream that a person can apply directly to the affected skin. It is also part of the vitamin A family.

Other topical treatments may contain peptides in lower concentrations or stabilized vitamin C, which works as an antioxidant and may help prevent skin damage.

Skin procedures

Dermatologists may use a pulsed light device, or laser treatment, to help treat crepey skin from the inside out.

The device heats small areas of skin, putting energy deep into the skin. This procedure helps the collagen to remodel and makes the skin tighter as a result. Recovery time can last from 1–2 weeks, depending on the exact device used.


Fillers such as injectables with hyaluronic acid or calcium hydroxylapatite, can improve volume loss and the appearance of fine lines on the face.

A doctor injects the filler into the skin, where it has a volumizing effect. This remains a relatively noninvasive treatment.


Healthcare professionals may suggest surgery for people who have lost a large amount of weight and have excess crepey skin.

A plastic surgeon may recommend an operation to remove the skin, but people should consider this carefully as it does carry some risks, including infection and scarring.

Surgical procedures that may help improve crepey skin include:

Crepey skin is different from wrinkled skin. It is a breakdown in the skin’s elasticity that occurs due to prolonged sun exposure, aging, or other environmental factors.

Crepey skin can affect large areas of skin and can make it noticeably more fragile and thin.

People do not necessarily need to treat crepey skin, but they can choose to improve the appearance with topical products, fillers, and more. People should speak with a dermatologist before trying treatments.