Are your hands lovely or lackluster?

December 1, 2006

Hands are an indication of age, so if yours are plagued with brown spots and freckles consider these treatment options.

Key Points

Are your hands telling on you?

Do you find yourself hiding them in social situations? Once expressive and dynamic, have your hands now taken a back seat, out of the range of intense scrutiny?

The truth is hands are not only a dead giveaway of most people's age, they can actually make you look older than you are. Years of sun exposure and use can make hands look years older than your chronological age! Who needs that?

Ask, and your doctor may tell you about procedures such as intense pulsed light (IPL) laser treatments that can zap away unwanted brown spots and freckles in a series of three to six sessions.

But, there are many things you can do at home as well. You can take the first step in lightening the mercifully slow progression of brown spots with two home remedies. Look for products containing 2 percent hydroquinone, a time-tested fade cream ingredient. You'll find it in Esoterica and Porcelana, two products you can find at the drug store.

FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE Dermatologists tell us that the best first line of defense to protect against telltale age spots is the use of products containing good UVA blocking sunscreens.

Anthelios SX from LaRoche Posay provides the most sun-blocking protection. It contains mexoryl, which protects the skin from shortwave ultraviolet A (UVA) light and doesn't break down as easily as other products. It has been available in Europe and Canada for years. Neutrogena's new Age Shield Sunblock with Helioplex SPF 45 is a good bet. It contains two FDA-approved sunscreens. Helioplex technology combines avobenzone with oxybenzone to effectively screen out UVB burning rays - and help stop UVA rays from penetrating the skin's surface layers.

If protruding veins are your beauty gripe you can talk to your dermatologist about injections of Restylane. Injected into the depressed skin areas between the veins, Restylane can plump up the appearance of the hands, and the effects last for six to 12 months.

Fat, transferred from other parts of your body, can also be used, but you have to be careful; this needs to be done with a high degree of expertise to avoid lumpiness. Expertly done, the results of a series of two to four injections can last indefinitely.

A close inspection of your hands may also reveal uneven color caused by areas of repeated friction. It may come from using your hands a certain way. This is often seen on the knuckles, especially above the fingers. If this part of your hand looks and feels especially dry, rough, red and calloused, ask your dermatologist about Salex Lotion or Cream. It contains 6 percent salicylic acid and can do more to help eliminate calluses and roughness than most moisturizers. It will gradually help slough off the excess skin cells that give hands a rough appearance.

At the end of the day, though, the simplest solution is the regular use of a good quality hand cream.