Most signs of aging on the hands, such as wrinkles, brittle nails, or dry skin, are harmless. Some people may take steps to make their hands appear more youthful by using hand cream, wearing hand protection, or making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking.
Skin aging is a natural and inevitable part of the aging process, and the hands are one of the first places to show signs of aging. The skin on the hand is one of the thinnest, so the loss of collagen is more noticeable.
It is also one of the first places to show signs of aging, partly due to frequent sun exposure and people constantly using their hands.
This article outlines some factors that can cause the hands to appear older. It then lists the lifestyle changes and treatments that can help reduce, reverse, or prevent the signs of aging hands.
Below are some lifestyle changes that can help keep hands looking their best.
Certain lifestyle changes can help to improve the appearance of the hands. Some examples include.
1. Manage stress
Stress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which can break down collagen in the skin. This can cause signs of skin aging, such as sagging and wrinkling.
The following practices may help to control and reduce stress levels:
- breathing exercises
- gentle exercises, such as yoga or tai chi
- talking therapy
Read on for other ways to lower cortisol.
2. Apply hand cream
Applying hand cream after handwashing helps lock in moisture. This can help to plump the skin and prevent drying.
Using a hand cream containing retinol may reduce the appearance of wrinkles, helping the skin look and feel smoother.
Read more about retinol creams to try.
3. Use moisturizers at night
Using a hand lotion with retinol or glycolic acid before bedtime can help relieve dry, cracked or scaly skin. Covering the hands with cotton gloves after applying the lotion can help lock in the moisture, allowing the active ingredients time to work on the skin.
Learn about the best moisturizers here.
4. Apply sunscreen
Applying sunscreen to the hands every day can help prevent or slow skin aging. After handwashing, people should reapply the sunscreen to ensure continued protection against damaging UV rays.
Find out the sunscreens for every skin type.
5. Wear hand protection
Wearing gloves in certain circumstances can help to protect the hands and keep them looking youthful. Examples include:
- Wearing protective gloves for household chores: Rubber or latex gloves can help prevent cleaning products from coming into contact with the skin of the hands, thereby preventing skin dryness, irritation, and brittle nails.
- Wearing gloves while driving: Driving gloves can help protect the hands from the sun’s rays, thereby helping to prevent skin aging.
- Wearing gloves in winter: Wearing warm gloves during colder months helps prevent the skin of the hands from becoming dry and scaly. This, in turn, helps to reduce the formation of lines and wrinkles.
6. Quitting smoking
Smoking reduces levels of collagen and elastin in the skin’s dermis, which is the inner layer of the skin. Fewer collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis cause skin to become slacker and less elastic.
Smoking also damages mechanisms that help repair the skin, causing signs of aging to appear more pronounced.
A person can consult their doctor for methods to help quit smoking.
There are some additional treatment options for aging hands are outlined below.
1. Skin-lightening creams and lotions
Skin lightening creams and lotions may help minimize the appearance of age spots on the hands. These products take longer to work than other methods but are less expensive and invasive.
Treating skin can be safe if a person uses dermatologist-approved methods. A person should speak with their doctor or dermatologist before trying this treatment.
A person may also wish to brighten their skin. The purpose is to increase the brightness and glow of the skin, not modify the skin pigmentation.
Microdermabrasion is a noninvasive procedure that involves using a special tool to gently exfoliate the surface of the skin. The procedure can reduce the appearance of age spots.
It can also boost the effects of certain products for mature-looking skin by allowing them to penetrate the skin more easily.
3. Chemical peel
A chemical peel is a cosmetic treatment that uses acids to exfoliate the skin. According to the AAD, a light chemical peel every 1–3 months may help smooth any rough skin on the hands and minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
Following a chemical peel, people should moisturize daily to maximize the longevity of the results.
4. Laser therapy
Laser therapy involves applying focused light to the outer layer of the skin in an effort to improve skin cell function.
The AAD recommends one or two laser treatments to minimize the appearance of age spots, with long lasting results.
Radiofrequency is a treatment that involves administering heat deep into the hands to tighten loose skin. According to the AAD, most people will require only one treatment on their hands.
Cryotherapy is a procedure that typically uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove abnormal skin lesions, such as actinic keratoses.
The amount of cryotherapy a person needs varies depending on the width and thickness of the actinic keratosis. A person who receives cryotherapy on their hands can expect to heal within around 3–4 weeks.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure that may help treat abnormal or enlarged blood vessels, usually varicose veins, on the backs of the hands.
The procedure involves injecting a chemical solution into a protruding vein, which causes the vein to scar and close. The blood then leaves the vein, causing the vein to collapse and absorb back into the body.
Dermatologists may recommend fillers in the hands of people who have a loss of plumpness or firmness in these areas.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the filler calcium hydroxylapatite for use in the hands. This typically lasts between 6–12 months, so people need to regularly undergo the procedure for continued results.
Sometimes, it may be more effective to use a person’s own fat as a filler for their hands. A dermatologist will be able to discuss options with each individual and plan the most appropriate treatment.
Skin aging is a natural part of the aging process. Below are some factors that may cause the hands to look older.
Wrinkles are a usual part of the aging process. They can develop on the face and other areas, including the hands.
As people age, skin becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic. This combination of factors makes the skin less flexible and less resilient to damage, resulting in the formation of lines and wrinkles.
UV radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun.
There are two types of UV light: UVA and UVB. UVB links to skin burning, whereas exposure to UVA light can accelerate skin aging.
This is because UV light breaks down the proteins collagen and elastin, which provide structural support to the skin. As these proteins degrade, the skin becomes weaker and more prone to sagging and wrinkling.
As people age, the gradual loss of collagen and elastin can cause the skin to lose its firmness and plumpness. This may result in loose skin on the backs of the hands.
Age spots or “sunspots” are darker patches that typically develop on areas of skin that experience frequent sun exposure. As people age, these spots may increase in size. While they are harmless, they can cause a person to feel self-conscious.
Actinic keratoses are precancerous skin growths that occur in response to sun damage. The growths usually appear on areas of skin that have received the most sun exposure, such as the backs of the hands.
Actinic keratoses may appear similar to age spots or may present as distinct patches of skin irritation.
Anyone who notices new and unusual skin blemishes or irritations should consult their doctor. Diagnosing and treating actinic keratoses early can help prevent the growth from developing into skin cancer.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), around 20% of people have brittle nails.
While anyone can develop brittle nails, the condition is more common among females over 60 years. As such, people may associate brittle nails with aging hands.
Yellow nails can make the hands appear older. Nails may appear yellow for various reasons, the most common being smoking and fungal infections.
Anyone who has yellow nails should talk with their doctor to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment.
As a person ages, their skin cell turnover begins to slow, and skin produces fewer natural oils. This can result in dry skin on the face and body, including the hands.
Dry skin can also occur if a person does not drink enough water or does not get enough sleep.
As people age, their skin loses plumpness and fullness. This can make the structures beneath the skin more prominent. People may notice that the veins in the backs of the hands become more prominent. Protruding veins can make the skin appear older.
Below is a slideshow of images of hands with signs of aging.
Skin aging is a natural part of the aging process, and the hands are one of the first places to show signs.
Some factors that can cause hands to appear older include wrinkles, sun spots, and brittle nails. While most signs of aging are harmless, a person should consult their doctor if they develop any unusual new skin blemishes or irritations. These symptoms can sometimes indicate the presence of precancerous skin cells.
Although aging hands are not usually a cause for concern, the appearance of aging hands may cause some people to feel self-conscious. A range of treatment options can help reduce, reverse, and prevent the signs of aging hands. A person can consult a doctor or dermatologist for individual advice on treatments.