Do your hands look older than your face?

nbd_admin|Skin care and sun protection
15 September 2018

We all spend a lot of time and effort getting our faces not to show the signs of aging, but is “hand aging” telling the secrets of your age to the world?

Most of us see our hands as tools for work not items on display. But as we age, our hands often show more signs of aging and sun damage than our faces because we’ve not been as careful in caring for their skin. For some people, this can result in a significant amount of social self consciousness.

At our clinic we treat a lot of hands. You mght be surprised to know that it’s only four basic problems that make up hand skin aging.

The top four conditions aging  your hands

There are four main conditions that make your hands age, and we can treat them all here at our clinic. They are:

  • Brown “sun spots”. Sometimes called freckles, lentigos, liver spots or coffin spots. These spots are caused by sun exposure earlier in life (and are not related to your liver). While they are not medically serious they can create a very speckled skin, meaning serious skin cancers may be less obvious. However, the biggest issue these brown sun spots represent is cosmetic – they tell the story of skin that’s been around a while! And this can be troubling to those who suffer with them. They are easy to treat with our pigment lasers, and are a very commonly performed treatment at our clinic. Usually people need 2-3 of treatments, spaced about 6 weeks apart, and get a great fading of the spots once the few months are complete. Learn more about treatment for sun damage here.
  • Barnacles or seborrhoeic keratoses. Also called  seborrhoeic warts or age warts, these raised up, unwanted bumps are also not medically serious but can be very troubling cosmetically as well as being prone to irritation when on parts of the hand that get bumped or rubbed against jewellery or clothing. They can be easily lasered off using the erbium laser. Most people will need 2 treatments spaced about 6 weeks apart.  Numbing cream is applied for approximately one hour prior to the treatment, to ensure that you are comfortable. Learn more about treatment with ablative lasers here.
  • Crepey skin. Crepey skin is a classic sign of aging, as skin loses quality and texture from the loss of collagen production that happens with age. The condition is compounded with sun exposure. This skin can be rejuvenated using the Fraxel laser, which is one of our most popular rejuvenation lasers for facial skin also. This laser causes a safe level of trauma to the skin, stimulating the body’s natural new collagen growth to repair the damage. Five treatments, spaced one month apart, will give the best improvement in the texture of the skin on the back of your hands. Learn more about skin rejuvenation here.
  • “Skeletonised” hands. As we age, our skin loses volume and fullness. On our faces, this occurs in our lips, cheeks, temples and chin. But we lose fat on the back of our hands, making veins and tendons more prominent and potentially creating a “skeletonised” appearance. This can be disguised by injecting hyaluronic acid filler to the back of the hands, in the same way we might do to lips and cheeks. This filler restores a more youthful volume and appearance to your hands. The effects of filler last between 4-6 months, so regular “top-ups” are recommended at about this interval, to maintain this youthful appearance. Read more about fillers here.

Overall hand rejuvenation

The signs of aging rarely strike alone, so if you’re thinking your hands might require a treatment that covers more than one of these conditions, we would suggest a consult to consider the Walter Nolan Multi Laser Procedure. This procedure can be applied to face, neck, decolletage and hands, and is tailored to the exact needs of your skin. It’s our clinic’s bespoke treatment and it was developed by our founder, Dr Jim Walter, and our very popular cosmetic physician, Dr Marianne Nolan. You can find out more about the Walter Nolan Procedure here.

Other hand conditions that can be treated

While aging of the hands is an unavoidable side effect of getting older, there are some other conditions that affect the skin on our hands which are not age-related but can produce problematic cosmetic issues.

Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) of the palms affects very few people, but those who experience this condition can experience debilitating social embarrassment.

This is a condition that can affect multiple parts of the body and is routinely treated with injections of botulinum toxin type A to the palms. As you know, this drug is injected into facial muscles to stop them tensing up (botox), thus removing frown lines and smile lines. Similarly, injections into palms paralyses the muscles that cause sweat to form, reducing the sweating significantly and alleviating the social anxiety of sweaty palms. Find out more here.

Birth marks, either red or brown in colour, can affect any area of skin, but when they are in a prominent place, like hands or face, they can seriously affect the social confidence of those who are born with them.

We can treat birth marks of all kinds with a variety of lasers. While the efficacy of treatment can be dependent on many things, improvement is almost always possible. Find out more here.

Preventing hand aging

While hand aging is inevitable, sooner or later, we can all help make it later rather than sooner by applying the same principles we do to the skin on our face.

Primarily, this means sun protection. Sun screen, hand covers and staying out of the middle-of-the-day sun can make a lot of difference in the long term, even if you’re already “not young”! There’s always more sun damage that can be caused.

Secondly, clean and moisturise with care. Our hands are often seen as work horses and we don’t spend the time or money on hand skin care that we do on faces. Perhaps this is understandable, but showing a bit more loving attention on our hard working hands can make a difference.

General health affects the skin like it affects every other organ (yes, your skin is an organ of the body). Eating a healthy diet, high in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, can contribute to better aging and skin health in general.

Got more questions?

Why not make an appointment with our dermatologist, Dr Terence Poon, to have your skin reviewed and your questions answered. Call our friendly receptionists today to make your appointment on (02) 9953 9522.


Written by Dr Marianne Nolan.
Marianne is our longest serving cosmetic medical specialist and has particular expertise in injectables and skin rejuvenation procedures. She loves to help patients look great for their age.