The dermatologist will see you now
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Clearing Up the Confusion1 of 9
By Shannan Rouss
Suspicious spots, stretched-out pores and pesky pimples can befuddle even the most skin-savvy among us. We asked the experts to help us get to the bottom of eight serious head-scratchers. Read on—your body's biggest organ will thank you.
Skinponderable #12 of 9
Gross-out alert: "If you have pus in the pimple, then I would say it's OK," says dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist. But don't over-squeeze—you could end up with an infection and scarring. Jaliman suggests doing the deed after a shower, when skin is cleansed and pores are more open. Place cotton between fingers (to prevent bacteria under your nails from spreading) and squeeze very (very) gently. Afterward, apply a topical antibiotic to help it heal.
Skinponderable #23 of 9
"Not any more than taking a bath quenches your thirst," says dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, MD. Sure, drinking water is good for your body overall, but it's not going to directly affect your skin's hydration the way that a good moisturizer does.
Skinponderable #34 of 9
Like you skin and eye color, the size of your pores is based on the genetic cards you were dealt. While you can't change that, you can reduce the appearance of pores. "Anything that gets the dead skin and debris out of pores will make them look better," says Jaliman. (Products with retinoids can be effective, she adds.) To permanently minimize pores, tightening and resurfacing lasers remove skin's top layers, getting down to a level where cone-shaped pores are naturally smaller.
Skinponderable #45 of 9
We wish it weren't so (because eating fries makes us feel guilty enough as it is), but high-glycemic foods—basically anything you might order during happy hour—can result in acne flareups. The reason? Foods packed with carbs and sugar increase levels of insulin in your blood, which in turn revs up hormones that cause breakouts.
Skinponderable #56 of 9
You can never have too much lotion on the body, but you can over-hydrate your face and clog pores, says Jaliman. To get the most out of any moisturizer, it's best to apply it after showering or bathing, according to Bailey. The lotion helps trap the water that's been soaked into your skin. "If you're acne-prone, then look for a lotion that's oil-free," she adds.
Skinponderable #67 of 9
If they're scaly, then they could be a fungal infection, says Jaliman. (Your dermatologist can prescribe a wash or cream to clear up the skin condition.) Although no one wants a fungus, it's actually preferable to the alternative: permanent sun damage caused by blasted melanocytes (your skin's pigment-producing cells).
Skinponderable #78 of 9
That pimple may in fact be a cyst, which may subside but never fully goes away. (And pinching and prodding it can only make things worse.) "A lot of times you've broken down the collagen underneath," says Jaliman, which interferes with healing and causes scarring. A dermatologist can treat the persistent spot with a cortisone shot.
Skinponderable #89 of 9
SPF determines how much time you can spend in the sun before burning, explains Dr. Jaliman. (For example, if you normally burn in 10 minutes without sunscreen and you've slathered on lotion with SPF 15, then you should be protected for 150 minutes.) Up until this year, SPF only covered UVB rays, the ones responsible for sunburns. But new FDA regulations will require sunscreens to be broad-spectrum, protecting against both UVB and skin-aging UVA rays.
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