We do almost everything with our hands. You hold a crying baby to sooth it, type in earnest to finish a late report, cook for the family, wash laundry, tend to your garden and even spank a disobedient child with your hands. Yet, even with the kind of work the hands do daily, we somehow give the face and other parts of the body more attention. Silky hands and beautiful nails should be a much-prized physical attribute. Supple and healthy hands speak volumes about our state of health and individual grooming. Neglected hands, however, create a poor impression and belie your age.
Hands bear the brunt of extreme weather conditions and daily work. Even if you remember to arm yourself with rubber gloves when washing up, hands still remain vulnerable. The skin on our hands, especially on our fingertips, is one of the most sensitive areas in our body. Over time, such exposure can result in dehydration and permanent discolouration of the skin, in other words, prematurely aged hands.
Good blood circulation to the hands is vital to keep joints mobile and build strong, smooth nails. Be careful not to allow dead skin cells to build up, and stiffen the hands making them sore and lifeless.
Common problems with the hands include:
- Dry and flaky skin which is caused by over-exposure to water. If this problem is not rectified, the skin may become slack.
- Pigmentation, caused by over exposure to the sun, hormonal imbalance, ill health or ageing.
- Hairy knuckles and back of hands due to hormonal imbalance, side effects of androgen or steroid drugs and heredity. This is more common from late forties onwards.
- Stiff hands caused by tension due to overuse of ones hands, weakness arising from injury, underuse or arthritic joints.
- Puffy hands, which is a symptom of fluid retention in the tissues due to poor blood circulation.
These problems can be easily solved if one employs a few simple habits. At home, try your best to wear gloves for household tasks that involve immersing your hands in water and detergents for long periods. Other instances when you should wear gloves include when gardening and in cold weather.
Use hand cream or lotion to help protect the skin from dehydration, especially after washing your hands, as we tend to use a lot of soaps that are not friendly to our skins. There are a wide variety of brands in the market. Keep some by the sink at home if possible. Slather some on your hands at night just before going to bed to keep your hands moisturized throughout the night.
When selecting hand creams or even lotion, opt for glycerine-based ones, which are non-greasy and help to rehydrate the skin. Glycerine is a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture from the air. On hot days, and if you plan to spend a lot of time outside, add a layer of sunscreen to your hands or look for hand cream with a built-in SPF. This is especially important for those with pigmentation problems, who need to wear a high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen all year round.
Unsightly hairs on knuckles or backs of hands can either be removed permanently by waxing, which will eventually weaken growth, though this may be common occurrence for very hairy people.
Ensure that you exfoliate your hands daily for three weeks using a mineral peel or all-purpose oatmeal scrub. This will enable your hands to undergo a transformation as successive layers of dried out dead skin cells are stripped away to reveal fresh ones beneath. Regular exfoliation will also reduce the intensity of pigmentation marks and normalize the circulation of blood in your hands, encouraging a more even distribution of colour. Repeat this weekly to maintain the good health of your hands.
Give your hands a mini-therapy
- Rub hand cream into your knuckles and finger joints using small circular movements, followed by a pulling motion to ease the joints.
- Use your thumbs to massage the backs of the hands upwards in the direction of the wrist to clear any congestion.
- Soak your hands in salt water for 15-20 minutes everyday for a two-week period to relieve stiff, aching hands and also to reduce any swelling or puffiness.
Published in Feb 2012