Hands are often the first place to show the signs of aging—and it’s no surprise: Our hands do a lot in a day and get almost as much sun exposure as our faces, yet they seldom receive the same attention. The result is hands that are old before their time, with dry skin, age spots and—perhaps worst of all—knuckle wrinkles. Luckily, there are several ways to restore a youthful appearance to your hands and eliminate or reduce the appearance of knuckle wrinkles.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, moisturizers “mask tiny lines and creases” producing a more youthful appearance. Since you don’t have to worry about clogged pores on your hands, use a heavy moisturizer several times a day. There are many creams designed specifically for hands or you can use a natural alternative such as shea butter or vitamin E.
Apply a heavy moisturizer to your hands before bed and put on either cotton gloves (to lock in moisturizer) or moisturizing gloves (which have moisturizers woven into the fabric). Both options are available at most drug stores. In the morning, your hands will be much softer and the appearance of your knuckle wrinkles will be diminished. The effect is temporary, so repeat as needed, once a week or more.
Massage retinol cream into your hands at bedtime. According to an article in “The New York Times”, three anti-aging treatments are proven clinically effective at reducing wrinkles, but retinol is the only one that does not require a visit to your doctor. Rather than simply diminishing the appearance of wrinkles, this miracle anti-ager actually reduces the size and depth of wrinkles. Look for a treatment made specifically for hands and apply it before your moisturizer as often as directed. An article in “More” magazine explains that bedtime is the best time to apply retinol treatments because during sleep “your skin is working to repair itself—and is best able to absorb and use active ingredients in skincare products.”
Visit your doctor. There are several doctor-performed options clinically proven to dramatically reduce knuckle wrinkles. According to an article in “The New York Times”, citing a review in “The Archives of Dermatology”, these treatments are “carbon dioxide laser resurfacing; and injection of hyaluronic acid, a moisture-retaining acid that occurs naturally in the skin.” Both of these treatments can be used on hands and range in price from about $3,000 for injectables to $5,000 for lasers treatments (average cost as of June 2010). The effects of these treatments last six months to two years. If money is no object, fat grafting (performed by a plastic surgeon) may be an option for you. Fat grafting reduces knuckle wrinkles and gives hands a more youthful appearance. The results last up to 10 years; however, the procedure costs upwards of $12,000.
Practice prevention. According to “The New York Times Health Guide”, the two major causes of wrinkles—in addition to genetics and the natural aging process—are sun exposure and smoking. Always use an SPF lotion on your hands (and face… and neck…) and, if you smoke, quit! To prevent dryness, which makes skin more wrinkle prone and existing wrinkles more prominent, always wear rubber gloves when you wash dishes or clean with chemicals, and use gentle cleansers when you wash your hands.
To help your skin absorb creams and moisturizers, exfoliate first; one tbsp. of olive oil with one tsp. of salt works well.
For medical procedures, always check your doctor's credentials and ask important questions, such as how many times she has performed the procedure and what specific training she’s had in using this method to reduce wrinkles.
Be especially careful to use sunscreen when you use retinol as it increases your risk of sun damage.