Age-proof your hands
Every year, women spend billions of dollars on anti-ageing
face creams. But what about another highly exposed,
and equally delicate, part of the body?
Next to your face, the skin on your hands is the most exposed part of your body. You can't hide them under clothes, conceal them behind high collars or scarves, and you can't cover them with make-up. As a result, your hands are exposed to a gamut of abuse on a daily basis, from the sun and the wind, to heat, air-conditioning and general wear and tear. And when it comes to others guessing your true age, they can often be the body part that gives the game away. While the backs of young hands are unblemished, unwrinkled and plump, older hands tend to look thin and bony, with loose, wrinkled skin and visible veins. The bad news doesn't end with these external factors. Genetics and gravity also have a role to play in the way our hands age.
Dr Jan Knight, a cosmetic physician and public relations officer for the Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia, says there are common problems associated with ageing hands. "Variation in colour is the most common issue, and it's far more ageing than wrinkles," she says. "These variations include brown spots such as seborrheic warts, and hyperkeratosis, or sunspots. Following this, it is prominent veins that are most apparent due to loss of dermal volume and sun damage."
The good news is that there are things you can do to improve the appearance of ageing hands."Creams that contain hydroquinone or other bleaching agents can help reduce pigmented spots," Dr Knight says. "Vitamin A cream and products containing glycolic acid can also help by making the skin look and feel smoother."
Another method that can remove spots, and which is inexpensive, is cryotherapy. "Cryotherapy freezes the cells containing the pigment, and causes them to blister and fall off," Dr Knight says. "Lasers or intense pulsed light therapy can help to rejuvenate hands, though the latter may require two to three treatments. A resurfacing laser treatment is another effective solution for removing spots." Dermal fillers can also be used to plump up hands and hydrate the skin so that veins appear less obvious, and specific formulas have been created for this purpose. As with all rejuvenation treatments, however, there are pros and cons.
"Lasers heat cells to cause cell destruction, for example, which means it will generally be uncomfortable, even painful," Dr Knight says. "And bleaching creams should be used with caution. There have been reports of possible adverse effects from the long-term use of low-strength bleaching agents, and short-term use of products containing very high concentrations. "What's important is that you see a qualified professional who will provide you with the most suitable treatment for your needs."