Worried about looking older than you feel? Don’t just look in the mirror, check your hands, too.
Hands have a punishing job. They do more work and are exposed to more sun, chemicals and other environmental factors than most other areas of our skin. As a result, the signs of skin aging can often be quite pronounced on the hands.
How can you keep your hands looking younger? Let’s take a look at the things you can do at home as well as treatments your dermatologist can perform for a more dramatic improvement.
Preventing your hands from premature aging
As with anything health-related, the sooner you begin, the better! The best way to keep hands looking young, smooth and supple is to begin a skincare routine similar to the one you use for your face and to take steps to minimize skin’s exposure to the effects that will age it.
What you can do at home
Sunscreen. You might have already guessed that sunscreen would be the first line of defense! UV rays are damaging to all areas of skin, but many times we forget to protect the backs of our hands. Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to your hands every day and reapply often.
Moisturize. Hand washing in hot water removes the skin’s natural oils, causing it to dry out, crack, and look older than it is. (With Covid-19, it is more important than ever to wash your hands well and often, so don’t skimp on that part!) Applying a quality moisturizer multiple times a day can help combat the effects of hands washing. When it comes to hydration, ointments are more effective than creams and creams are more effective than lotions. A good rule is, the thicker the better! Many people use a thinner product during the day and a heavier product at night, often wearing cotton gloves to bed to keep the cream or ointment from rubbing off. Opt for products that are fragrance-free and dye-free and marketed for very dry skin or eczema. You can get more tips in this blog post. Moisturizing will not only protect your hands from additional premature aging, but can improve their look today. Rehydrating the skin plumps it up and gives it a fresh, glowing look.
Wear gloves. To reduce skin’s exposure to soaps and harsh chemicals, wear gloves when cleaning, doing dishes, or doing yardwork.
Exfoliate. Dead skin cells can give skin on the hands a dull, aged look. Using an exfoliating hand wash once in a while can help slough off those old cells and make room for a fresh, new layer of healthy skin. If your skin is sensitive, use a gentle product and don’t overuse. Follow up exfoliation with a lanolin-based product or other quality moisturizer.
Reversing the damage
Once the hands have begun to show their age, there may be little you can do on your own to reverse it. Luckily, a dermatologist can recommend treatments that reduce or eliminate troublesome signs of aging skin on the hands. Here are a few things we have in our toolkit that can help your hands look more youthful.
Dermatologist treatments to help your hands look younger
Age spots. Age spots, also called sunspots, liver spots or solar lentigines, are non-cancerous dark spots that appear in areas that have received sun exposure over the years. They aren’t dangerous, but because they can make skin look aged, many people prefer to have them treated. We can reduce the look of age spots with cryotherapy, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, intense pulsed light (IPL) or skin-lightening creams.
Loss of volume. As we age, we lose the layer of fat just under that skin that provides volume and a youthful softness to our hands. Skin becomes more lax, and veins grow more prominent. To restore volume in the hands, we inject dermal fillers. The results last months and help to fill out sunken areas in the hands for a smoother, younger look.
Wrinkles. Wrinkled, crepe-papery hands can benefit from a retinol or glycolic acid lotion combined with a light chemical peel or laser treatments. A chemical peel can also address any roughness on the hands.
Nails. Issues with the nails can also make your hands look aged. Brittle nails, nail fungus, or discolored nails are all conditions we can help with. Also, see a dermatologist if you have inflamed nail beds or misshapen nails, as some nail problems can be signs of more serious health problems. Melanoma under the nail, known as subungual melanoma, often shows up as a dark line or bruise that doesn’t grow out with the nail. This requires immediate medical attention
When it comes to your hands, “beautiful” and “healthy” go hand-in-hand! Come see us for any conditions that make you shy away from showing off yours.