Some people may think hands and feet are less important than the face, and that hands and feet don’t deserve to be taken care of with the very best serums and creams. But they do! They are if you can think of a future when you are not 20 anymore and you can’t wear super-high heels (ouch!) and your feet hurt.
As we age, hands and feet age more visibly than other parts of the body (our bones and heart also age, but we can’t see those changes), perhaps even faster than our face.
Let’s take advantage of the fact that we can see our hands and feet, and that just a few minutes per week of attention will keep them healthy and functional.
Hand and foot care are not an “indulgence”
Painting each nail with a different color and applying stickers are indulgences. But moisturizing, cutting nails the “right way”, and doing foot exercises are not.
Looking after the skin of hands and feet is easier than dealing with the underlying bones, muscles, and fat: the skin is easily accessible. Loss of fat under the skin is a big factor in the aging (and aged looks) of hands. The only solution at the moment is plastic surgery – with the risks that surgery entails – so let’s concentrate on what we can do, which is take care of the skin.
The plantar skin has several unique features which relate to weight bearing. The epidermis is considerably thicker (approx. 1.5 mm, compared to 0.1 mm in other regions of the body), and has a pattern of ridges which help in generating sufficient friction when walking. The dermis is approximately 3 mm thick, and is penetrated by adipose tissue which gives some resilience to stress. With aging there is a flattening of the dermo-epidermal junction, a reduction in the turnover rate of keratinocytes and a reduced density of sweat glands. At the level of the dermis, there is an overall loss of elastin and collagen fibers, with the collagen fibres that remain becoming thicker and stiffer. Age-related changes significantly alter the mechanical properties of the plantar skin, leading to increased hardness, dryness, and loss of elastic recoil, thereby predisposing the older person to dry skin, fissuring and the development of corns and calluses.
Toenails thicken as we age, the result of “just” aging, trauma, fungal infection and limited blood supply.
Proper foot self-care includes nail and skin care, washing and drying the feet each day, doing foot exercises, and wearing socks and shoes that fit and are made of appropriate materials. Even small actions have an impact on foot healthy; moisturizing the feet keeps the skin elastic and prevents corns and calluses. Hosiery can contribute to shock absorbency, and foot exercises promote balance and ankle flexibility. Shoes provide balance and security when walking. Foot problems, and the pain they cause, will affect the quality of life.
So, remember: care for thickened toenails and do regular foot exercises to improve balance and ankle movement (talk to your trainer).
Healthy hands are essential for a good life. The COVID emergency may be (or appear) to be over, but the damage to hands from all that washing and disinfectant will continue. This means you have to work harder at keeping your hands healthy and functional. Keep your hands clean and moisturize them: moisturizing hands is part of good skin hygiene. What do you need?
An emollient cream. You can improve the emolliency of any cream by adding petrolatum (get it from your supermarket or local pharmacy)to it. Apply the cream after washing to lock in the moisture.
Hand sanitizer is convenient and sometimes the only thing available, but soap and water is better and will damage your hands less.
This oil-based serum will provide lipidic nutrients and will help keep fungus away: https://skinactives.com/every-lipid-serum/
Take care of your nails: this water based serum will provide nutrients and keratinocyte growth factor. And this is an every lipid serum designed for your nails and cuticles.
Find more information in my blog
Miikkola M, Lantta T, Suhonen R, Stolt M. Challenges of foot self-care in older people: a qualitative focus-group study. (2019) J Foot Ankle Res. 18;12:5. doi: 10.1186/s13047-019-0315-4. PMID: 30675187; PMCID: PMC6339366.
Menz HB. (2015) Biomechanics of the Ageing Foot and Ankle: A Mini-Review. Gerontology. 61:381-8. doi: 10.1159/000368357. Epub 2014 Nov 11. PMID: 25402236.
Cohen PR, Scher RK. (1992) Geriatric nail disorders: diagnosis and treatment. J Am Acad Dermatol. 26:521–31.
DISCLAIMER: These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.