One of the telltale signs of ageing is the hands. We don't tend to apply the same youth-preserving routines to our hands as we do to the face. This, combined with years of hand washing, continual usage and exposure to the elements take their toll on our hands.
Signs of ageing hands include dry, scaly and crepey skin, protruding veins, age spots, brittle nails and nobbly joints; which inevitably lead to people feeling self-conscious. How many children want to shake hands with their grandparents?
Where should we start?
The obvious place is the visible area, the skin. It becomes thin, dry and crepey. Lift it up and it stays lifeless, where it was. There is no springing back. We lose collagen, elasticity and the glands that secrete onto the surface. Soft suppleness is lost. There is no tender touch.
Age spots or liver spots are the flat brown or grey patches appearing on the back of the hands of most people above 40 years old and particularly those with fair skin.
They occur due to exposure to the sun, resulting in excess melanin production. Sun also causes rough, scaly patches called actinic keratosis (AKs). Beware, these are pre-cancerous, developing into Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC). The patches of pigment are also not immune to malignant change.
Beneath the skin, the veins and tendons become prominent and visible as the underlying supporting fat melts away.
Nails become brittle and prone to fungal infection. The wrist and finger joints become nobbly, stiff, deformed and painful with arthritis.
What can we do?
Happily, there are many treatments available involving various specialists. We are unusual in having all of these available at the Cadogan Clinic.
Aestheticians restoring skin quality with moisturisers, lasers and peels.
Dermatologists treating age spots and scaly keratoses. They will also replace the lost subcutaneous tissue with fillers.
Plastic surgeons will also use fillers, but very often prefer the transfer of fat, to replace volume and rejuvenate the skin.
Vascular surgeons may remove ugly veins by radiofrequency or laser.
Finally, our Hand surgeons will remove protruding bony lumps of the end finger joints (Heberden’s Nodes) and straighten joints.
Handwashing is imperative for health and one of the most important things we can to reduce the risk of picking up and spreading germs to others. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, handwashing is the number one thing you can do to safeguard against infecting yourself and spreading this highly contagious virus.