Our hands are often the first place to show the signs of ageing.

Look at anyone’s hands and you can usually gauge their true age.

So why is it that while you can have some success in holding back the years on your face, when it comes to hands it is a much harder task?

‘The skin ages faster on the hands because they are exposed daily to chemicals, smoke and, most importantly, UV radiation,’ (Nina Goad from the British Association of Dermatologists.)

For women, the changes are exacerbated by the fact that levels of oestrogen, the hormone that stimulates collagen production, start to drop around the time of the menopause. Collagen is the protein responsible for keeping the skin on our hands plump and fleshy, so once the collagen levels start to decrease, it shows in our hands.

But while you can’t stop the natural, biological ageing process, you can take steps to reduce ageing caused by external factors such as pollution, UV radiation and harsh washing up chemicals.

Daily help for hands

Rough patches on hands

Rough areas on hands can mean your diet is too low in essential fatty acids. ‘Just like the skin on your face your hands need to be well nourished to stay smooth and soft,’ explains (Natalie Savona, author of Wonderfoods Quadrille)

Try eating more foods containing essential fatty acids. Good sources include fish such as salmon, sardines, nuts and seeds, plenty of fruit and vegetables in a wide variety of colours, for example orange, apricots and squash, purple berries and sprouting broccoli. This will ensure you get the full range of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, which research shows may help protect against sun damage.

Cracked hands and deep lines

Painful cracks and deep lines on your hands are usually a sign that your skin is dehydrated.

Drink two litres of water a day. Go for fruit and vegetables with a high-water content, such as celery, cucumber, courgettes, tomatoes and all types of melon.

Dry and chapped hands

Exposure to the sun, wind, cold weather, harsh detergents, cleaning products and so on can quickly dry out hands.

Your hands may become more chapped in the winter as cold weather, rain and changes in temperature affect the skin’s barrier function, so always moisturise hands before going outside and wear soft gloves that don’t scratch or irritate the skin.

Also, moisturise your hands regularly, especially after contact with water. Wear rubber gloves when washing up and use a hand cream after washing your hands.

Dry your hands well after washing. Any water left on the skin will evaporate, leaving it looking and feeling dry.

Age spots on the skin

Age spots are flat, dark marks on areas of skin exposed frequently to the sun, such as the hands. They are caused by UV light causing uneven build-up of pigmentation in the skin. Your best defence against age spots is to use a sunscreen on your hands. Choose one with an SPF 15 or more. Using a special hand exfoliate to slough off the top layer of skin can also help to fade spots. (Nina Goad.)

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.