Creams that are made for lined skins should soften and smooth existing lines and help delay the formation of new ones. They do not eliminate the lines. When using a new skin-care product it normally takes four to seven weeks to see any results. Give it some time and judge only on whether your skin feels softer and smoother and the lines are less noticeable.

It is also important that the cream is suited for your basic skin type. Not all lined skins are necessarily dry skin. Some may be oily and dehydrated, sensitive, damaged by sun, medication, or severe illness or sagging from sudden weight loss. Even though all of these skins may be lined, they would not all benefit from the same cream and other products such as cleanser, toner, mask.

Don’t look to a cream to be your magic formula to an ageless skin. Be realistic about the results you can expect and develop a suitable skin- care program. This does not only mean the use of the proper cleanser toner, protective and nourishing creams and masks but also decreasing the amount of wear and tear on the skin. Use gentle motions when cleansing and applying creams. Avoid pushing the tissues around through such habits as rubbing the eyes, resting the face on the hands and sleeping with your face buried in the pillow (Try sleeping on your back – it’s better for you anyway.) Doing facial exercises can put a strain on the skin, the loss of tone in the face has more to do with loss of elastic tone in the actual skin fibres and less to do with a loss of muscle tone. Lines at the mouth, eyes, forehead and across the neck are caused by repeated facial expression and the exercises may only exacerbate them.

It is most important to protect yourself from the sun. Unfortunately, sun damage is cumulative. Sun damage in your teen years appears when skin regeneration slows down, usually around middle age. And remember that just because you are using a sunscreen, you are not totally protected as some burning rays are still able to penetrate (except total blocs such as zinc oxide). Become aware of, and try to eliminate unnecessary facial expression that can cause line formation – furrowing of the brow, pouting, grimacing, raising the brow, etc.

I have developed some deep cracks in the skin around my nails. It becomes worse in the winter, even though I wear gloves and use a skin lotion all the time. What can I do? (I am 62.)

The cracks seen in the skin around the nails and on the tips of the fingers could be the results of an allergy. Occupational exposure to cleaners (either household or industrial), or nail polishes, cuticle removers, nail polish removers or even something in a hand cream could be the culprit.

Other factors could be poor circulation over a period of time. This may be the result of arthritis, diabetes, or chronic neck and shoulder tension restricting the circulation to the hands and fingers.

A cure is not likely possible until the cause is found and eliminated. But your symptoms do sound a little excessive to be a simple case of dry skin. Our best advice would be to see a skin specialist. In the meantime, using a product containing glycerine or silicone or a good healing hand cream is better than a lotion which contains more water and, therefore affords less protection.

I am subject to hives and they seem to come just at the wrong time (the last time was on my way to a job interview). I’m told they are caused by stress. What do you suggest?

Hives, urticaria, or nettle rash come in a few forms but the most common is a small mosquito-bite type of rash which is itchy, short-lived, but can enlarge into larger welts. They are commonly due to medication, emotional stress and reactions to certain foods and usually appear very quickly after the aggravating factor is present. They can disappear in a few hours or a couple of days. You could apply cool compresses to sooth them, calamine lotion is often of help. Do not have hot showers or baths as these could further irritate the skin.

If you are on medication, you should check with your doctor to see if it could be causing this. It is easy to spot whether or not the cause is a food reaction because the hives will appear almost immediately after the food is consumed. Chronic or prolonged hives should be seen by a doctor.