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I’ve never liked my hands, even as a teenager. I used to secretly compare the skin on my hands with my classmates’ and friends’ hands. Their hands always looked so beautiful.
Their skin was so smooth – like the skin of an ‘English rose’.
I always thought that my hand skin looked like it was from a reptile.
I was not happy at all with my hands. So superficial, I know, but we have so much outside pressure to be ‘perfect’, especially when we’re young. If you think that you’re not perfect, it’s easy enough to put on makeup, go on a diet, wear flattering clothes … but there’s not much you can do about reptile skin on your hands. Everyone can see them, you can’t hide your hands. You can’t live with your hands in your pockets 24/7.
So I learnt to live with them and tried hard not to draw attention to them.
Then at 18 I had a baby, and for a short time we lived without a washing machine. This was in the time of cloth nappies (‘diapers’ for our American friends). Disposable nappies were available in the shops at the time, but they were so expensive I couldn’t afford them. So I hand washed my daughter’s cloth nappies for a while.
Without rubber gloves, because I couldn’t afford them either.
And that just added to my ‘trauma’. My hand skin became worse – used, worn. Ugly.
Not to mention all the cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, bathing the baby/child, and other duties we have as parents. My hands never stood a chance. I was doomed.
But somehow life continued ok, and although my hand skin ‘problem’ was always at the back of my mind, I managed to live, to go out and have fun, and not spend too much time depressed because of my ‘grotesque’ hand skin.
Nobody else seemed to notice, funnily enough. It seemed like I was the only one who knew how bad my hands were. I don’t ever remember anyone saying how ugly my hands were, or that I had hands like a reptile, or that my hand skin repulsed them.
And then, one day, someone (Olivier) offered to marry me! Yes, me, with my reptile hand skin. Somebody chose me to be his wife! And even after he’d got a good close look at my hands, and saw my worn, used, old, reptile-ish hand skin, he still wanted to marry me.
So, we got married.
I managed to avoid those close up photos newly-weds have taken of their two hands together, showing off their shiny new wedding rings. We didn’t have a professional photographer at our wedding, just friends and family taking whatever photos they liked.
I couldn’t imagine how awful one of those close up hand photos would have been.
I was 42 when we got married. I was still relatively young and not in too bad condition. Except for my hands of course.
Then, time started passing very quickly. I don’t know how it happens, but it’s true that as we get older time goes faster. It really does.
We’ve now been married for more than 10 years, and it seems like only a couple of years have gone by since our wedding day.
Ten years of life have passed and I’m now 52. And, my hands have never been worse than they are now.
Why, I hear you ask? Because I’m an old lady! Because now I’m a grandmother! And, worst of all, because I now have … liver spots on my hands!!!
My grandmother’s hands
I now have my own grandmother’s hands.
Holy crap, how did that happen?
Not only do I have reptile skin hands, they now have old lady spots on them! I could cry!
I’m sure that right now some of you beautiful women out there reading this can relate. Well, maybe not to the reptile skin part, but liver spots seem to be something that we can’t avoid as we head into our more mature years.
Prevention or cure?
So, I asked myself if there was anything I could have done to avoid getting them in the first place.
What I found out is that it was probably inevitable that I was going to get liver spots, especially on my hands. They tend to appear in places on the body which get a lot of sun. So, they may also appear on shoulders, faces and arms, particularly on people who live in a warm/hot climate and spend a lot of time outside in the sun.
I’m Australian. I grew up with sun 24/7.
Also, people with red hair and fair skin are more likely to get them. So I had no chance of avoiding them, it seems.
Apparently, if you’ve used sunscreen and avoided the sun over the years, or you live in a place that isn’t particularly sunny, you might not experience these small dark marks on your skin. But that information comes a bit too late for some of us, doesn’t it?
Oh, and avoiding tanning beds is a good idea, as they can also increase the risk of developing liver spots in later years.
What are they?
So, what are liver spots exactly? They’re simply discolouration of the skin, usually flat, oval, marks which can be up to about 13mm across, are often black, brown or tan, and usually start appearing at around the age of 50.
What can we do about them?
First of all, if you’re not sure that your spots are actually liver spots, you may wish to consult a doctor. A doctor can tell you for sure if you have liver spots, or something more sinister, like melanoma.
Once you’re sure that they are liver spots, then you can decide if you want to live with them or not.
I’ve decided to live with mine. As I get older I find it’s a lot easier just to accept who I am, and the changes that my body’s going through as I get older are fine with me (mostly!). I’m less influenced by the media’s idea of what’s beautiful and what’s not.
But, if you are motivated to get rid of them, there are some things you can try.
- The easiest option is simply using makeup. Any foundation can help you here. The problem, of course, is that the foundation may not stay on as long as you want it to.
- You can buy some ‘fading’ creams over the counter in chemists. You should look for something that contains hydroquinone, glycolic acid, or kojic acid. Be aware that you might experience some irritation of the skin when you use these creams.
- Some topical medical creams may work, and stronger ones can be obtained with a doctor’s prescription. These work over time, and so it may take several months to see results. You’ll probably be prescribed a cream containing either hydroquinone (a bleaching cream), mild steroids, or retinoids, eg. tretinoin (actually an acne cream). Be aware that you might experience burning, dryness, itching, or redness when using these products. Of course if any cream causes pain, stop using it and see your doctor to change the prescription.
- Freezing (cryotherapy). Using liquid nitrogen or similar on your spots. This is usually only used for small spots or small groups of spots.
- Laser and intense pulsed light therapy. These treatments entail a few visits to the doctor, however the results won’t become visible for some weeks or months, so be patient. After using this treatment you should use sun-cream and other sun protection every day on the treated areas.
- Chemical peel. The doctor covers the skin with acid and removes the top layer of your skin. Your body then has to grow a new layer of skin – without liver spots. You might need to have a few treatments before you see any results.
So, now it’s up to you to decide what you want to do about this very harmless but annoying problem. Are you going to live with your liver spots? Or are you going to try some different treatments to have them removed or at least fade them with some creams? As I mentioned above, I’m going to live with mine – after all, I am a grandmother, and it’s quite normal for grandmothers to have liver spots on their hands. I wish there was a solution for the reptile skin, though.
PS. I’ve made these fingerless gloves for the Never Mind the Wrinkles shop – perfect to hide the old lady liver spots! Take a look now!
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