How to keep hands looking young and supple

Hands tend to be the first thing to show age due to exposure to sun and chemicals

Even as we look after our skin and layer on product after product on our faces to stave off wrinkles, sagginess and pigmentation, we often do not pay enough attention to our hands.

We handle kitchen chores, grapple with rough objects and expose our hands to the elements with almost no care or little protection, especially in the tropics.

And so our hands, together with our under-eyes and necks, tend to be the first parts to show ageing.

According to Dr Kwan Yuan Dong from S Aesthetics Clinic, here are signs to look out for and how we can prevent our hands from betraying our age.

Age spots and liver spots

These tend to gradually increase in quantity and size as we get older due to exposure to UV rays and the elements.

We can use pigmentation lasers such as the pico laser to shatter and destroy the pigments on the skin.

Chemical peels and micro-dermabrasion can smooth out the texture and lighten pigmentation, and there are some skin lightening creams that can suppress the production of pigments. Cryotherapy can also be used to "freeze off" certain lesions.

Loss of volume/fullness in the hands

As we age, our hands lose "fullness", which causes the skin to become lax and develop a crepe paper-like texture. The veins, tendons and skeleton of the hands also become more obvious.

Fillers, such as hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, or body fat, can be used to restore fullness into the hands.

Bio-remodelling skin injectables such as polynucleotide can also be used to plump up the skin.

Thinned, wrinkly, rough or crepe paper-like skin

Chronic sun damage causes our skin to thin and lose its elasticity. As we age, the skin in our hands loses collagen and thins out. UV radiation can speed up the loss of collagen and cause premature ageing.

Our skin holds less water as we age with the loss in hyaluronic acid, and this may give them a dry and rough appearance.

Common treatments to smoothen the appearance of our skin include lotions with retinols and glycolic acid, moisturisers, hand creams, lasers or chemical peels every one to three months.

Actinic keratoses (rough scaly patches)

Rough patches can form on your skin if you have been exposed to a significant amount of sun in your lifetime.

Get them checked by a doctor as some rough patches may be actinic keratoses which are precancerous growths.

They can occur earlier in people who have used tanning beds before, or if they have had a lot of sun exposure throughout their lives.

Brittle, discoloured nails

About 20 per cent of people have brittle nails, characterised by lines or ridges across nails, and the risk of developing these increases with age.

To strengthen your nails, reduce habits that weaken nails, such as getting hands wet for too long, using harsh chemicals or soaps, and having a nutritional deficiency or fungal nail infections.

Other habits that may help keep your hands supple and looking young

It is essential to protect your hands from UV radiation, so apply ample sunscreen and reapply them after you wash your hands.

Wear sun-protective gloves when driving. When working in the garden or with hot water, detergents and chemicals, always wear gloves.

Apply a lotion or cream after washing hands or a shower to maintain the barrier function of our skin, as well as trap water in your skin to keep it supple and plump.