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Aging is a natural process. As you age, your body will go through various changes. Some of the most visible signs of aging usually occur on your skin’s surface, especially on your hands.
Many of us take care of the skin on our faces as we age. We often neglect our hands. By applying nurturing skin care to your hands, you’re helping them age properly while retaining their natural beauty.
Let’s take a closer look at the signs of aging skin on the hands and what you can do to keep your hands looking youthful.
Age spots, also called sun spots or liver spots, consist of flat, round blotches on your skin that are brown to black in color.
The hands are common places for age spots to develop, as well as your face and chest.
While these spots can certainly appear with age, the name is a bit misleading, as these spots are primarily caused by ultraviolet (UV) ray exposure.
Age spots may be prevented by reducing UV exposure. Protect your hands by applying sunscreen daily.
When selecting a sunscreen, here are some important things to remember:
- Use an SPF 30 sunscreen at a minimum.
- Select a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This type of sunscreen provides both UVA and UVB protection.
- Apply sunscreen year-round, especially between noon and 4 p.m. when the sun is typically brightest.
If you have age spots on your hands, you may be able to treat them at home with chemical peel and microdermabrasion treatments.
These treatments work by removing your skin’s top layer so that the smoother, more youthful skin underneath is revealed.
Dry, scaly skin is often seen with age, but it’s not necessarily inevitable. A lack of water and sleep can dry out your skin. Smoking can also make dry skin worse by removing its natural moisture.
Poor circulation can also lead to dryness in your skin. It may be brought on by:
- a diet lacking in recommended amounts of certain minerals and nutrients
- sleep deprivation
- a lack of exercise
Cold, dry weather may also make dry hands worse.
You can prevent dry, scaly hands by using unscented soaps and lotions, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Here are some other ways to prevent dry, scaly hands:
- Always wear gloves outside during the winter months to prevent further moisture loss.
- Apply hand cream every time you wash your hands.
- Prevent immersing your hands in water for a prolonged period of time whenever possible.
- If you can’t avoid water contact altogether, minimize water-related activities, such as swimming and washing dishes, for a few days.
Treatment for dry hands depends on the severity of the dryness, cracks, and scales. A good daytime moisturizer will seal in water without making your hands oily.
You can wear a thicker moisturizer at night. To maximize the effects, wear cotton gloves overnight. Extremely dry skin may benefit from products that contain lactic acid, which acts as an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells.
Wrinkles develop as a result of collagen loss. These protein-based fibers are more readily available when you’re younger. However, it’s also possible to lose collagen too early.
Collagen loss in your hands may be prevented to some degree. Smoking, for example, is directly responsible for collagen loss. It also causes a reduction in future collagen production.
UV ray exposure may also contribute to wrinkles appearing in your skin of wrinkles as you age. Daily sunscreen is a must.
Look for a retinol hand cream. Used daily, this vitamin A derivative can help make your skin look and feel smoother.
Your nails can also show signs of premature skin aging because they’re actually a part of your skin. Nails are made of keratin, which is a protein fiber that naturally grows outward from your fingers.
While nail fungus can turn nails yellow in color, other cases of yellow nails may be related to stress, infection, or other underlying medical conditions.
Talk to your doctor if you have yellow nails. They can help determine if this is related to a fungal infection or another type of medical condition. Smoking cigarettes can also cause your nails to turn yellow.
Nail fungus may be treated with over-the-counter products that are used daily until the yellow-tinted fungus goes away. This process can take several weeks.
As you age, your skin becomes naturally thinner, making veins underneath the surface more visible. Protruding veins in the hands can give the appearance of less youthful skin.
Veins can become more noticeable due to lack of circulation. You can’t necessarily prevent thinning skin.
But you can possibly reduce vein dilation with healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise, adequate sleep, and no smoking.
The only way you can treat protruding veins at home is with moisturizers and camouflaging makeup to help reduce the appearance on your hands.
You can ask a dermatologic surgeon about more invasive treatment measures if the veins bother you.
Dry, brittle nails are caused by changes in moisture levels.
Dry nails that split are related to not enough moisture. Soft nails are caused by too much moisture. Dryness in your nails can occur with age.
However, dryness is made worse by:
- low humidity
- frequent washing
- dry heat
Soft and brittle nails, on the other hand, are mostly caused by chemical exposure. Examples of chemicals include:
- nail polish removers
- cleaning products
You can help prevent brittle nails by:
- wearing cleaning gloves when using household cleaning products
- wearing gloves with moisturizer overnight
- keeping your nails filed and groomed to prevent splitting
Aside from protection, you can help moisturize your nails as you would with the rest of your hands.
Ask your doctor about biotin supplements, which may help strengthen your nails, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
To maintain youthful hands, consider these daily steps:
- Wash your hands with a mild, unscented soap only. Immediately follow up with a moisturizer.
- Use a sunscreen-based moisturizer when outside in the sun. Choose a product that has at least SPF 30. Get more help selecting a sunscreen with this comprehensive guide.
- Check your nails for any brittleness or snags. File them in one direction to prevent breakage.
- Wear gloves if you’re headed outdoors on a cold, dry day.
- If you’re cleaning, wear latex or cotton-lined gloves to protect them against any chemical exposure.
- At night, apply a thicker ointment or cream and slip on a pair of cotton gloves before bedtime.
- Consider using an exfoliant every day. Consider using a microdermabrasion or chemical peel once a week.
- Use a non-acetone polish remover to prevent brittle nails.
It’s also important to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle to prevent aging skin. Consider the following tips:
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
- Drink plenty of water every day.
- Get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits.
Moisturizing and protecting your hands at home are key to maintaining youthful-looking hands.
However, if you experience thick scales, red rashes, or significant brown spots that won’t go away, it may be time to see a dermatologist. They’ll look at your symptoms and rule out any underlying conditions, such as eczema.
A dermatologist may also recommend medicated creams or professional treatments for severe aging skin, such as laser therapy.