You work hard to look youthful. You cover your grey hair, faithfully apply anti-aging crèmes and protect your face with sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats when you’re outside. But if you neglect your hands, they may give away your true age or make you look even older. Don’t wring your hands with worry; moisturizer, sunscreen and other products can help.
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“Dry, scaly skin, brittle nails, and dark age spots can become problems as people get older,” says dermatologic surgeon Alexandra Zhang, MD. “Also, the hands can develop a skeletal appearance because you’re losing fat.”
Stop the clock
To fight signs of aging, Dr. Zhang recommends the following:
- Moisturize. Don’t let your hands get dried out. Make a habit of putting on lotion regularly during the day and after you wash your hands.
- Protect your skin and nails. Wear cotton-lined gloves when gardening or when cleaning with harsh soap or chemicals. Use a mild pH soap to wash your hands. Both Dove® and Dial® make mild or ultra-mild soaps. Your doctor may have more recommendations.
- Wear sunscreen. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher will prevent age spots and wrinkles. Protect your hands from UV rays to help keep your hands from looking bony and shriveled as you age. “Be aware that when you’re driving, UV rays come through the windows,” cautions Dr. Zhang. “Get in the habit of wearing sunscreen,” she adds.
- Eat a healthful diet. A balanced diet with plenty of vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids nourishes your skin and helps you grow healthy nails. If your diet is low in certain proteins, vitamin C, or vitamin B complex, or if you have poor absorption, your nails can become brittle and peel or flake easily.
Turn back the hands of time
If your hands already look older than you’d like, it’s not too late. Most problems can be treated to bring back a more youthful appearance.
- Age spots can be improved with over-the-counter or prescription topical creams containing retinol or retinoid acid. If these aren’t as effective as you’d like, chemical peels or laser treatments in your doctor’s office can bring about more dramatic results.
- Thin, bony hands can be plumped up with injections of synthetic fillers or your own body fat. And certain laser treatments can stimulate collagen production and tighten loose skin.
Talk to your doctor about how to treat the signs of aging on your hands, and choose a good multivitamin and a bottle of moisturizing sunscreen to prevent further damage.