Rule #1: Protect your hands from the sun.

Do you still recognize your hands? If the answer is “yes,” you probably have not hit your middle fifties. Hands that have done dishes, changed diapers, scrubbed bathtubs, gardened and gripped the steering wheel in the noonday sun are likely to be paper dry, wrinkly, veiny and spotty. For all that good work, you deserve a reward. Instead, you have hands that give away your age. No good deed goes unpunished.

After constant hand washing while tending a sick husband, a 52-year-old reporter was horrified by the appearance of her hands. Over a six-month period she tried in-office and home treatments, targeting dry red skin, age spots, loose, wrinkly skin and popping veins. She shares the results in the September 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Soap and water may keep you germ free, but is the enemy of dry, red skin. Instead, use a non-soap cleanser like Cetaphil that you can wipe off with tissue. Don’t go near dishes without rubber gloves. To moisturize, use heavy creams and ointments laden with glycerin or petrolatum. Place hand creams in purse, desk drawer and car, so you actually get to use them. If normal creams don’t work, use a barrier cream with fat molecules (ceramides) and hyaluronic acid, a moisturizer. To maximize absorption, wear cotton gloves at night or wear them over moisturizer during the day with the fingers cut off.

For age spots and wrinkles (sun is definitely the culprit), you can try hydroquinone to fade pigment. But the most effective treatment is a laser. Some lasers, including Nd:YAG, DioLite and Ruby, target brown pigment one spot at a time. A superficial scab will form, but in a week or so the scab will flake off, leaving neutral-pigmented skin underneath.

For diffuse spots, try an overall treatment that will address both spots and wrinkles, such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). You will need three to five sessions spaced a month apart. Fractional laser or Fraxel is another allover approach, producing more dramatic results than IPL, but requires a day of downtime. You will need three to five sessions spaced over three to five months. The reporter found that Fraxel was worth the mild pain; the skin tones on the back of her hands became impressively even.

For slack hands with loose skin, try retinoids to increase skin thickness. Chemical peels can also renew cells. For protruding veins, you need an in-office procedure. DioLite is a laser that shrinks vessels in one or two sessions. But a synthetic filler like Radiesse injected into the space between the tendons produces immediate results. The reporter tried it and her hands puffed up like mittens. Two weeks later, after swelling and bruises disappeared, she looked at her smooth, filled out hands in admiration.

Source: The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery