Because of sun and weather exposure, years of minor scrapes and cuts, and for some, constant exposure to water and detergents, our hands sometimes age faster than other parts of our bodies, and detract from our appearance. Fortunately is it now possible to rejuvenate the hands, restoring their appearance and sometimes also improving the thickness and health of the skin on the backs of the hands.
Fun loving, hard working hands don’t get the sun protection they need. The backs of the hands are sometimes overlooked when sunscreen is applied – or the sunscreen is washed off or accidentally wiped away. Gardening gloves, golf gloves, bike gloves work gloves can help to protect our hands from sun and from trauma.
Daily moisturizing your hands is critical to keep your skin supple and prevent dryness and cracking. Wearing gloves and moisturizing in the cold weather helps protect your hands from chapping and cracking.
For some people, dry cracked hands are a chronic condition called contact dermatitis, or hand eczema. Often caused by your daily routine, one which involves constantly having wet hands (i.e. hairdresser, surgeon, homemaker), this condition results in red, scaly, and very itchy hands. If you suspect your have this, read more at http://www.eczemaguide.ca/basics/eczema_like/hand_eczema_hand_dermatitis.html
There are some solutions to rejuvenating the look and feel of your hands:
- There are numerous special hand creams available, more being introduced almost every week! Creams with vitamins A, C, E and alpha hydroxyl acids are key ingredients which can help prevent and restore your youthful looking hands.
- Restisol-A® 0.01% cream contains tretinoin (which prevents and corrects some aspects of sun damage) and also has an SPF 15 sunscreen. When Retisol-A cream is applied to exposed areas like the face and the backs of the hands EVERY morning – year after year – the aging process is slowed down, and sometimes after a year or two the skin will actually start to look and feel younger and healthier.
- Sunscreens which have the ability to stick to the skin (for example, Anthelios-45® Waterproof Sunscreen) can be very helpful on active parts of the body like the hands, and can also act as a moisturizer. The sunscreen should be applied before sun exposure, even if you are using Retisol-A as a base coat for your skin every morning.
When the skin on the back of the hands has become old looking and freckled – and sometimes also thinned out – it is possible to correct these problems and give your hands a fresh, more youthful look:
- Brown spots (sometimes called freckles, “age spots” or “liver spots”) can be faded using fading creams and also by using the Medlite C6 laser. Treatments take only a few minutes, are well tolerated, and great improvement is usually obvious within a couple of weeks.
- Thin skin on the backs of the hands can be quickly improved by treatment with Restylane™. This not only improves the appearance of the hands by making veins and bones less obvious, but also restores the fullness found in youthful skin and gives some protection against bumps and bruises. The benefits of a single treatment can be seen immediately and often last 6-12 months, sometimes longer.
- In some cases Artecoll™ can also be used to improve the thickness of the skin on the backs of the hands. Artecoll™ costs more to use, and several treatment sessions 2-4 months apart may be required, but Artecoll™ has the advantage of producing an improvement which can last for many years.
Like most things, prevention is your best solution. Keep your hands beautiful by remembering to moisturize, use a sunblock and protect your hands from exposure – the same way you look after your face. For more information on cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, and general skincare, go to SkinCareGuide.ca.
Dr. Kevin Smith is a dermatologist in Niagara Falls, Ontario with a particular interest in protecting the skin and in correcting skin problems resulting from aging, rosacea and sun damage. He is an expert in the use of Botox®, fillers, lasers and intense pulsed light to maintain and enhance the appearance of the skin, and have lectured on those subjects across North America, and in Europe, Asia and Mexico. Read more at www.smithlaser.com