When people think about keeping themselves looking younger, they tend to concentrate only on their face. Even those that have become religious about applying sunscreen to the face every day look at their neck, chest and hands and think, “How did I get so old looking?”
Your neck, chest and hands are areas that are equally as exposed to the sun’s harmful rays as the face, especially in active individuals who enjoy the outdoors. However, because these areas are frequently neglected in sunscreen use, they also show the telltale signs of aging and can cause a person to appear (and feel) prematurely older.
In women, the first signs of aging can be seen on their hands, particularly in their early 30’s. As the skin of the hands loses moisture, spots begin to appear on the surface. The spots have many names in layman’s terms, such as sunspots, age spots, or liver spots (even though they have nothing whatsoever to do with the liver). As you can probably guess, they result from sun damage combined with age, and are not due to age alone.
As with facial aging, prevention is the best medicine for your hands. You need to moisturize the skin and protect it from the sun. The way to meet both those criteria is by applying a thick layer of moisturizing sunblock to the back of the hands each day before going outdoors. Wearing gloves while gardening, golfing or canoeing/kayaking can also be protective. In fact, women golfers often complain about the difference in appearance between their gloved and non-gloved hands.
I know for some of you, those sunspots are already on your hands and you want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Don’t worry; not all hope is lost. Once the discoloration of these spots is present, products containing retinol and hydroquinone can smooth and moisturize the skin while fading some of the color. This works best for very early age spots, but also takes daily use over a long period of time to be effective.
For discoloration that does not respond the fade solution above, laser treatments can literally erase the pesky spots on the hands and elsewhere. The treatments are especially good not only on the hands, but also on the V-neck or décolletage area of the chest. The laser initially darkens the spots, resulting in some peeling or flaking over the next several days and then slow but steady fading over the next 2-3 weeks. Most sunspots require two to five treatments, depending on the darkness and size of the spot as well as how long the spot has been present. Generally, the smaller, lighter and younger spots fade the fastest.
To keep looking younger, don’t neglect your hands, neck and chest. Meanwhile, if you have any other questions concerning this article and any other skin issues, please leave a comment on this blog or call our office directly at (207) 873-2158 or email through our website. Until next week’s blog post, keep the sunblock in stock and on your skin.