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The hands on the clock (unfortunately) never stop moving, and neither do our own – which is one of the reasons our hands are likely to give away our age even more than our faces, according to Meryl Joerg, MD, of Advanced Dermatology P.C.
“Our hands are always exposed to the elements, so between that and normal aging, they can become wrinkled and discolored over time,” Dr. Joerg explains. “But many people don’t maintain their hands with the same kind of attention as they give their face. This can cause a real double-take for others, who may think someone looks relatively young until they spot their hands.”
In what ways do our hands show our age? One of the first things that occurs is they lose plumpness and firmness, starting to look bony. The veins on top of the hands become bigger and more prominent, the skin becomes thinner and crepe-like, and age spots – a byproduct of decades of sun exposure – start to speckle the tops as well.
“Luckily, there’s much we can do to slow the hands of time, at least as far as our own hands are concerned,” Dr. Joerg says.
Tips for younger-looking hands
How to accomplish this? For starters, Dr. Joerg suggests these easy, non-invasive measures:
* Exfoliate your hands with a gentle sugar or salt scrub to rid your hands of dead skin.
* Moisturize daily. “This tip is intuitive – obviously, softer hands make for younger-looking hands,” Dr. Joerg says. “For a more aggressive approach, use moisturizers containing retinol or hydroquinone, which help lighten age spots.”
* Use soap-free cleansers for hand washing, which aren’t as drying.
* Use gentle non-fragranced dishwashing soaps and/or wear gloves for this daily chore.
* Don gloves while gardening during the warmer months, since dirt and grime aren’t gentle to the skin. *
* This also protects the skin from the sun’s damaging rays.
* Get a hand massage. “These aren’t only luxurious, but they get the blood circulating to the hands, which brings nutrients with it,” Dr. Joerg notes.
* Get a manicure to keep hands looking younger. Do not cut cuticles as this can cause infection and swelling around nails. Simply push the cuticles back. I advise against using UV light machines to cure nails as this directly damages the skin and can lead to discoloration and skin cancer.
* “Keep fingernails short – which is the style at the moment – and consider using ‘younger’ nail polish shades such as grays, blues or greens, which look very current,” she suggests.
* Wear sunscreen on your hands daily, even during colder months. “Exposure to ultraviolet light through the windshield while we’re driving can really add up over time, aging the hands” she says.
Cosmetic procedures offer a helping hand
Many people don’t maintain their hands with the same kind of attention as they give their face. This can cause a real double-take for others, who may think someone looks relatively young until they spot their hands.
Fillers: Radiesse has been FDA-approved for use in the hands, and this injectable product fills in lines, folds and depressions. “Radiesse is injected into the skin on the back of the hands to add volume and can reduce the visibility of bones, veins and tendons in the hands,” she says. “In addition, injecting filler into the hands helps stimulate the body’s own production of collagen, which enhances the end result.” Results are immediate and can last from 1 to 2 years.
Lasers: Diffuse sun damage on the tops of our hands – showing up in the form of profuse freckling or larger, unsightly age spots, and thinning of the skin – can be reduced by laser treatments. Some lasers specifically target the brown pigment of freckles and age spots. Other lasers such as Fraxel stimulate collagen in the skin to diminish the wrinkles, break apart the pigment, and thicken the skin “Usually 3 to 5 sessions are needed for the full effect of the lasers to be apparent,” Dr. Joerg explains.
Regardless of which combination of tactics you use to attack aging hands, Dr. Joerg encourages everyone to be as proactive about their hand maintenance as they are about their face. “We slather sunscreen, hydrating creams and wrinkle-reducing serums all over our face to look younger, and often we consider cosmetic procedures to bring the results to the next level,” she says. “Why wouldn’t you give your hands the same consideration? You don’t want your hands to give away your age.”
Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies. http://www.advanceddermatologypc.com.
– Meryl Joerg, M.D., is board certified and specializes in dermatology at Advanced Dermatology P.C.