The Doctor Is In
Skin Issues That Warrant a Visit to Your DermBy Zoe Schaeffer
We've all had days when we've wanted to reschedule a lunch for an impromptu visit to the derm. But when is a skin crisis really a crisis and when can we take matters into our own hands? We asked Dr. Jean-Louis Sebagh, whose own skincare line is worthy of its serious cult following, to help us break it all down (so we don't have a breakdown.)
MAKE THE CALL
If you notice small white spots cropping up around the eyes, cheeks and nose, it's probably milia, a type of cyst filled with a substance called keratin. “Heavy or oily skin products can prevent skin cells from naturally exfoliating,” says Dr. Sebagh. “Scrubs can help. But truthfully, it can warrant needle extraction.” And we think we'll leave that to the professionals.
When the outer layers of skin break down, harsh irritants can easily enter. One result is the common condition known as eczema, which is red, patchy and cracked skin. “Steroid creams prescribed by your doctor, along with moisturizers, will solve the problem,” says Dr. Sebagh.
“Rosacea is one of the hardest problems to diagnose because it can be confused with sensitive skin or acne,” says Dr. Sebagh. He suggests seeing your derm if you see broken blood vessels, small red bumps and have periods of intense flushing. But luckily, in conjunction with in-office treatments, patients can help calm skin at home by avoiding certain strenuous foods and activities.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
While it's easy to freak over a pimple, it's nothing more than a pore blocked with oil and bacteria. “You can take care of this common problem at home with a good antibacterial cleanser and a gentle exfoliator,” offers Dr. Sebagh. “And in a pinch, toothpaste does make a great emergency spot-buster as alcohol dries and the peppermint reduces redness.”
“Blackheads are enlarged, blocked pores and occur when air oxidizes the sebum and melanin gets trapped in dead cells,” says Dr. Sebagh. Switch from heavy moisturizers to noncomedogenic products, and make sure to exfoliate twice a week. “And don't squeeze. It can damage pores and leave them permanently open!”
It's good to arm yourself with a few power products to keep skin looking its best. A great exfoliator is key for keeping acne at bay. We like Malin and Goetz Jojoba Face Scrub. An oil-free moisturizer like Neutrogena Oil-Free Anti-Acne Moisturizer won't clog pores. And a powerful anti-aging serum like Dr. Sebagh's own Supreme Maintenance will improve both fine lines and clarity.
But sometimes the best thing you can do for your skin is to simply nurture it from the inside out. “Eating lots of refined sugar will age you by breaking down collagen fibers, causing lines and brown spots,” says Dr. Sebagh. “Switch to eating only natural sugars so skin stays healthy and glowing.” And when it all just seems to feel out of your control, it's good to have that trusted professional on speed dial, or at least in your personal contacts.
Is it time for a trip to the dermatologist?Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock