“Hand skin care is just as important and often overlooked when it comes to prevention and treatment of aging.”
By Dr. Michelle Hure, MD, MS
Aesthetic medicine has traditionally focused on face and body beautification while ignoring one of the most expressive and age-revealing areas. Hand skincare is just as important and often overlooked when it comes to prevention and treatment of aging. Not only does the skin on our hands undergo photoaging from chronic UV exposure and the pigmentation, skin-thinning and wrinkles associated with that, but the constant exposure to water, soap and chemicals found in our daily routines exacerbate the aging process.
Here are a few tips, products and procedures to keep hands youthful or help turn back the hands of time.
Hand skin care in our twenties should focus on prevention, just like facial skin care.
This really comes down to taking good care of the skin and wearing sunscreen, daily. It’s important to realize that harsh skin care is aging your skin.
So, any product that touches your skin should be gentle, fragrance free and moisturizing. Gentle cleansers, lukewarm water and regular moisturizing are mainstays of good hand care. In addition to that, protection with gloves when washing dishes or handling chemical cleaners is essential.
One of the most important preventative measures you can take is limiting the UV exposure that will incrementally add up over time to cause the aging issues we see in our forties and beyond. Applying (and reapplying) sunscreen 30+ daily is necessary but sometimes hard to do. Consider investing in UPF gloves to wear while driving and/or getting manicures where UV or LED light is used.
In our thirties, forties and beyond
Once we’re in our thirties and forties, the aging process has already taken over and will continue into the later decades.
Many times we see youthful-appearing mature women and men who invested in their facial skin care and anti-aging procedures only to have their hands give away their true age. During these decades we need to continue with all the prevention rituals and add in rejuvenation procedures when appropriate.
Hand rejuvenation procedures should address all the different layers of skin, the epidermis, dermis and underlying subcutaneous tissue.
Many people in this age group will show sun-induced hyperpigmentation of the top layer of skin (epidermis) known as “solar lentigines” or sun spots. Often, non-invasive procedures employing light chemical peels, IPL devices, non-ablative laser or even liquid nitrogen can have a huge impact on the perception of youthful hands by eradicating the hyperpigmentation. Topical agents such as retinoids, hydroquinone and cysteamine are a safe at-home option for patients who want conservative treatment for mild photoaging.
Once the deeper dermal collagen and elastic tissue have degraded and the underlying soft tissues have become depleted, the hand undergoes skeltonization revealing the underlying tendons, blood vessels and bones.
To achieve rejuvenation at this point, we need to rely on more invasive techniques to restore youthful characteristics. Radiofrequency, microneedling and non-ablative, fractional laser procedures can help restore skin thickness by stimulating new collagen and elastic tissue formation.
To help restore youthful volume and mask underlying anatomic structures, more invasive procedure like filler or fat injections are the top choices.
With any procedure, non-invasive or invasive, it’s important to realize that hands are delicate and should be treated conservatively to avoid scarring and infection. Some aggressive procedures we perform on the face could be absolutely disastrous on the hands.
As with all cosmetic procedures, check with your board-certified physician to discuss what options are best for your needs.
Dr. Hure is double board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Pathology in both Dermatopathology and Anatomic Pathology. And, the owner of OC SkinLab, a full-service dermatology practice in California.