Handy Hints for Hand and Nail Care

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

As women, we tend to be busy; we're moms, wives, we work 40 plus hours outside the home and often 40 plus hours in the home. Many times we neglect simple needs and put ourselves on the back burner. If a woman counts the times she does something using her hands, well, let's just say, they're as overworked as we are. So maybe you don't have time to go to the salon and get a manicure, but it's important that we practice good hand and fingernail care at home, as well.

The dynamics of having great hands starts with a great hand and nail regiment. It's fairly simple and takes little time, but the results can pay off. The skin on the back of a woman's hands is soft and thin, that skin can wrinkle very easily. Whereas, the skin on the palm is thick and tough. The palm has no natural lubrication mechanisms thus they can become dry and very rough. In order to care for the hands and nails properly, you can try the following:
  • Anytime your hands come into contact with water, moisturize or lubricate them afterwards. Chemically enhanced moisturizers that contain urea, lactic acid or glycerin oil is even more efficient in binding water to the skin.

  • Always wear barrier creams or silicone creams when doing dirty and greasy jobs, like the dishes, they will protect your hands by creating a shield. As water evaporates, it takes moisture out of the skin; this barrier will ensure the moisture in your skin and hands stay there.

  • Give yourself a weekly manicure

  • Every night before bedtime, massage your hands with a cream or moisturizer for a few minutes
  • If your nails split and chip, apply a strengthening nail hardener, found at salons or drug stores

  • Wear gloves when dealing with harsh detergents or cleaners, gardening or yard work.

  • Polish those nails; believe it or not, nail polish protects the nail from stains, physical trauma, and acts as a barrier to chemicals. However, it's best to use a base coat before polishing to help guard against discoloration of the nails. If discoloration does occur, soak your nails in water and a drop of lemon oil twice a week.

  • If your nails are dry, you may want to soak them daily for 10 minutes in warm water, be sure to dry completely and apply moisturizers when you're done.

  • Sculpt and shape the nails with a nail file in one direction. Use a very fine nail file, avoid tears of the nail; take your time.

  • When pushing back cuticles, keep them in the "moon" pattern, and always do your cuticles when the nails are warm and wet.
As women age, the nails may tend to thicken and grow slower, and often times your hands may be more susceptible to skin diseases during this time. Don't ignore problems with your hands. Often such things as separation of the nail from the bed may be due to an iron or thyroid deficiency; nails that thicken may be attributed to a fungus infection. And nails that develop pits or dips may be a symptom of psoriasis.

More often than not, women are looking for ways to avoid wrinkles and the aging process. Even for their hands. Luckily in today's world there are many options for women when it comes to skin care regiments.
  • Exfoliates and moisturizers with Glycolic and Lactic acid help soften the skin mostly though exfoliation, or removing the dead skin cells. Both Glycolic and Lactic acids are AHA's or Alpha Hydroxy Acids, they are acids found in fruits, honey, and dairy products. Scientists have been studying their anti-aging capabilities for years.

  • Green Tea found in some hand care products helps decrease inflammation of the hands because it contains ECCG, a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Another great ingredient that works wonders for moisturizing the hands is Hyaluronic acid or cyclic hydroxy acid; this acid has recently become the favorite additive to use in moisturizers. Why? Because it holds 1000 times it's weight in water content within the skin.

  • Vitamin C is also a member of the AHA family, but it can act as an antioxidant protects against the environment, and it helps stimulate collagen; which is the tissue that makes the skin's elasticity.

  • Vitamin E; also known as the "Vitamin of Beauty", protects the skin membranes against damage and ensures immediate replacement of damaged membrane molecules. In other words, it's an antioxidant and a rejuvenator of skin.

The great thing about living in America is the overwhelming choices we have when it comes to products. Many hand and nail care products are formulated with many of the ingredients listed above, or a combination of ingredients. All products promise to help you and your hands look and feel better. Whether you prefer going to the salon weekly for a professional manicure, or staying at home and doing your own hand and nail care, it's "hand's down" of the most importance!