Whether you’re writing in your journal, introducing yourself, telling an animated story, or pressing your fingers into a yoga mat—many of life’s best activities intimately involve your hands.
Your hands tell the world how healthy you are (pitted or cracked nails can be a sign of disease), how old you are (prominent veins and brown age spots reveal that), and how well you take care of yourself (bitten nails, hangnails, and rough scaly skin hint that you are neglecting yourself).
With all your hands do for you, here are a few things you can do for them:
1. Skip the manicure.
As indulgent and fun as they are, manicures can be abrasive to your nails. They stain the keratin of the nail plate itself, abrade the top protective surface of the nail, and make you more prone to paronychia, an infection of the soft tissues around the nail. Try to limit yourself to no more than two manicures a month. Opt instead for a polish change, without having your cuticles trimmed or pushed back. Or skip it altogether.
2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
The glabrous skin of the palms is unique and doesn’t absorb regular moisturizer the way your arms and legs do. Instead, try a heavy immolient moisturizer made especially for the hands. Vaseline or other gooey salves work best. Slather your hands before bed to allow 8 full hours for the moisturizer to penetrate your skin surfaces.
3. Stay out of the sun.
Don’t forget your hands when applying your daily sunscreen. The backs of your hands (the dorsal surfaces) see a lot of sun exposure over the course of the day, and if you neglect them, you’ll notice brown spots, freckles, and fine lines popping up. This is the reason why the easiest way to tell someone’s age is to look at their hands (and the thin skin around their eyes).
4. Keep your nails short and well-trimmed to avoid collecting dirt and bacteria on their undersurfaces.
A nail clipper is much less traumatic than a nail file, which can put tension on weak areas of the nails. Avoid acrylic nails, permanent gel manicures, and nail jewels, which rely on caustic adhesives that damage the structural integrity of the nail.
5. If you notice anything unusual on your hands or nails, see a hand specialist.
Skin cancers can show up as pigmented streaks in your nail beds. A new lump can mean a tumor like a mucous cyst. Pitted or cracked nails can be signs of autoimmune or inflammatory diseases. Cuts from cooking and car accidents can damage the delicate network of tendons, nerves, and vessels that powers your hands — so don’t ignore these signs.
Use these five tips to wave goodbye to your hand troubles!
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