From wrinkles to liver spots the hands are one of the first places where we start to see signs of age, and while there’s nothing wrong with growing older, many of us aren’t best pleased if we feel our hands don’t match the age we feel. So how can you make them look younger?
We spoke to Dr. Sharon Wong, a consultant dermatologist, to find out what causes ageing in the hands and what you can do to improve their appearance, should you wish.
What are the main causes of ageing in the hands?
The skin on the back of the hands is naturally thin and is one of the first give away signs of ageing skin. The most important external factor in ageing the hands is excessive sun exposure, which causes blemishes, pigmentation and destroys collagen and elastin in the skin – these are the two main scaffolding proteins that provide the plumpness and elasticity of youthful skin.
Internal causes are mainly due to genetic factors, but also the loss of oestrogen in menopause causes further loss of collagen in the skin for women.
Around what age do women start to notice their hands looking older?
Most women start notice ageing of hands around their 40s, but if they were less careful in earlier years in terms of sun protection the signs of ageing skin can start to appear much younger.
How can you reduce lines and age spots in the hands?
It is never too late to start applying high factor, broad spectrum sunblock on a daily basis – not forgetting to reapply throughout the day. Apply sunscreen to your hands when driving and even when it’s a cloudy day, as studies show that 80% of UV radiation from the sun can penetrate through clouds.
Dry dehydrated skin enhances the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles so make sure you regularly apply hydrating moisturisers throughout the day. Creams include retinols (vitamin A based compounds) are proven to boost collagen production and over time help to fade pigmentation, spots and blemishes.
If you’re prepared to opt for a more invasive treatment, dermal fillers can be combined with needling techniques can help to smoothen out wrinkles and fine lines on hands, and return some of the plumpness to the skin.
Blemishes and pigmentation can be effectively treated with chemical peels and some forms of lasers.
What about your fingernails?
Fingernails tend to grow more slowly, become thinner and more brittle with age. They are therefore more prone to splitting. The colour of nails can also change over time – becoming dull, grey or yellow.
Although the mechanisms are not fully understood, it is thought that reduced circulation to the fingers and cumulative UV exposure may play a role.
I advise regularly moisturising and massaging the fingertips and around the nails, minimising trauma to the nails by wearing gloves to avoid direct contact with harsh chemicals, and keeping manicures and use of nail polish to a minimum.