Prevent Damaged Hands

handsThe face is the body part I get asked about the most.  The hands, believe it or not, come in a very close second.

Women pay specific attention, and frequently much time and money, on their faces, as they should.  However, they only have to look down to notice that their hands are more likely to reveal their age whether they like it or not (and they mostly don’t like it, as one can imagine).

Other than the face, the hands are the body part most exposed to the elements (e.g. UV rays from the sun, cold temperatures).  Therefore, it is no wonder that the hands need special attention and protection.

In this blog post, I will outline both preventive and reparative strategies for the hands:

1.) Prevent and Treat Dryness

Overdrying is the common issue for hands in general.  Due to hygiene concerns, most of us wash our hands frequently.

washing_handsHowever, most of us do not replace the moisture removed by the washing and drying process.  Every time you wash your hands, especially with hot water and harsh soaps, you are also removing the hands’ naturally protective oils.

Every time you wash, it is important to apply a good moisturizer to replace the barrier previously washed away.  There are many good options on the market, but generally the thicker the product, the better.

Although the moisturizer may look thick and greasy coming out of the tube or bottle, these products are generally melted by the heat of your skin and rapidly absorbed.  A common one used in medical settings is Eucerin.

washing_dishes_glovesDish-washing is another culprit in the causes of hand dryness.  As a male, I am all in favor of the automatic dishwasher which you load, turn on and walk away.

However, for difficult cleanups, or for the purists in the kitchen, I strongly suggest wearing gloves while washing dishes.  Gloves are also advised for any other activity where your hands will be submerged in water or exposed to harsh chemicals for a period of time.

2.)  Avoid Damage When You Can; Treat Damage If It Occurs

hands_age_spotsDark spots are one of the most common signs of aging hands.  They develop as a result of years of unprotected sun exposure.

Dark spots are sometimes referred to as “liver spots”, but they actually have nothing to do with the liver.  They are from ultraviolet damage to the skin, pure and simple.

The strategy here to protect your hands from further damage is by applying SPF 30 or greater sunscreen first thing in the morning as you do on the face.  The trick is also to reapply the sunscreen after you wash your hands during the day, especially if you will be spending time outdoors.

golfing_glovesWearing gloves in this instance can also be a convenient protection, especially when you are gardening.  Interestingly, frequent golfers notice that their glove hand over time tends to look younger and less damaged than their ungloved hand for exactly the reason.

As far as the spots are concerned, when they do develop, laser treatments can easily correct these spots and remove them within several sessions.  Laser therapy causes the spots to blister, or rise, initially and then peel off, resulting in new, undamaged and healthier skin developing underneath.

3.)  Restore Volume

Loss of the natural volume under the skin is another feature of the aging hands.  When such a loss occurs, the skin reveals the bones, tendons and veins of the hands more prominently.

aging_hands_fillerBack in the old days (not too long ago, actually), not very much could be done about this volume loss.  However, now in the age of dermal fillers, volume can be restored quickly and effectively.  I have performed this procedure on a significant number of patients with excellent results.

The procedure generally involves local numbing cream over the surface of the top of the hand and one injection point to deliver the filler under the skin.  After the injection, a combination of local pressure and massage will distribute the filler throughout the dorm or top of the hands without pain or difficulty.

The amount of filler needed will vary with the individual, their age, and the amount of volume they desire to replace.  In general, most of those who have had the procedure have rated it highly and are very satisfied with the results.


Take care of your hands, and they will not reveal your secrets.  You should not have to hide your hands when the prevention strategies for the hands are, in reality, available and easy to perform.

Even in the cases where damage is already present,  laser and injectable therapies now easily reverse the effects of sun and time.  If you have any questions about this topic, or would like me to assess your hands for possible treatment, give Denise or Emily a call at (207) 873-2158 to schedule a free consultation.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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