Solutions to Your Skin Dilemmas - Dr Wu

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ever wonder why you're still getting adult acne or why there are strange dry flakes behind your ears? Lucky for us, celebrity dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu has teamed up with Aveeno to answer some of our common skin dilemma questions. Normally I don't write interview posts, but reading through some of these questions made me realize how important it is to understand our skin better. I hope this will be helpful to all of you who suffer from acne, hyper-pigmentation, as well as other skin conditions that we'd all like to improve or eliminate.

                                                                   image via Fashion Trends Live

How much is too much in skincare? 
    Listen to your skin. If it gets red, itchy, flaky, and angry-looking, you may be over-using some product in your skincare routine.

I'd like to know what to do /how to handle "ear acne," i.e. comedones on cartilage of the ear; as well as dry skin on the back of ears.. basically ear skin care! 
     The first step is to be as thorough cleaning your ears as you do your face. The skin on your ears is thick and has a high concentration of oil glands, so it tends to get clogged and form blackheads. If you have lots of blackheads, you can swab the earlobes and outer ear canal with a cotton swab dipped in acne toner. Careful not to drip into your ear. Facialists or dermatologists can also do extractions if you have large, compacted blackheads that won’t go away.

      Flaky skin on the back of the ears is often a sign of seborrheic dermatitis (a type of dandruff). This is caused by overgrowth of yeast that feeds on your skin and oils. Washing with a dandruff shampoo daily and using an anti-yeast cream (like Lotritimin) for a week or two usually calms the problem. Taking a probiotic (or eating yogurt) daily has also been shown to help this condition. If the flakiness spreads, oozes, or gets crusty, it’s best to see a doctor to make sure it’s not a Staph bacteria infection.

Suggestions for adult acne.
    Adult woman with acne tend to have drier skin than teens with acne, so traditional acne medications are often too drying and irritating, and make the situation worse. Your best bet is to use a gentle foaming cleanser to remove makeup & surface oils, followed by a sulfur-based mask or treatment product. Sulfur is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, without being as drying as benzoyl peroxide. Since adult acne is often hormonal, it’s also a good idea to watch what you eat, especially when you’re PMS’ing: try to avoid dairy, refined carbs (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta) and sugar, which can trigger your hormones and make you break out. And, if you have irregular periods and facial hair growth along with your adult acne, be sure to see your doctor, since these can be a sign of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Suggestions for dry skin
      For dry skin (or if your normally normal-oily skin gets dryer in the winter) , try to avoid treatments and products that will strip your skin of its natural oils. Instead, wash with a mild, creamy cleanser, using your fingertips, and avoid alcohol-containing toner. Dab or spray it on if you feel like you need extra hydration before applying moisturizer. Better yet, skip the toner and go straight to the moisturizer. Look for richer cream formulas rather than lotions or gels. If you use a serum or medicated cream, apply that first, then your cream moisturizer to seal in hydration.

Suggestions for oily skin
      If your skin is oily, look for a foaming cleanser to help break up oil. A skincare brush or washcloth can help remove oil and makeup. Follow with a toner; if you also have acne, choose one with salicylic or glycolic acid to help unclog pores. For anti-aging, look for antioxidant or retinol in gel or serum formulas (which are water-based) instead of a heavy moisturizing cream. If you have any dry patches (like your cheeks), apply a moisturizing lotion (not cream) to those areas only. Choose a moisturizer that’s oil-free, with ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to hold moisture in your skin, rather than oil-based creams.

What are the best kinds of vitamins to take? Do you like Liquid or pill form? 
     Depends on the vitamins…for example, most of us could benefit from omega-3 fish oil, which has been shown to help dry skin, eczema rashes, & psoriasis. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so it can help calm acne breakouts. For fish oil, I prefer liquid form; there are fewer additives and starches, and more of it is absorbed by the body. Stronger Faster Healthier makes a chocolate-flavored fish oil that I take every day. For hair and nails, I recommend biotin. This comes in pills.

What are those chicken bumps on my arms and what can I do about them?
     The bumps on the backs of your arms are most likely a condition called “keratosis pilaris” which is caused by clogged hair follicles. This is a genetic condition that may improve with age. However, if it persists, you can minimize the bumps by exfoliating to help the dead skin cells slough off. I also recommend using a body wash containing salicylic acid to loosen the dead skin. In the morning, use a body lotion containing lactic acid (like Lac Hydrin or Am Lactin—both available at drugstores). At night, use a rich body butter to make the bumps smoother. For stubborn cases, I sometimes prescribe a retinoid like Retin A or Tazorac, and also do light in-office chemical peels.

Best treatment for under eye puffiness:
     It depends on what the puffiness is caused by. For example, if the puff comes and goes, or is worse in the morning, it may be due to water retention. In that case, avoid salty foods and foods with added salt after lunch and then sleep on an extra pillow. In the morning, hold cold teabags over your eyes for a minute or so, or use the Aveeno Anti-fatigue eye roller, both of which shrinks puffy tissues. Also, avoid hot water on your face. This should help reduce the fluid under your eyes. If your puffiness is associated with allergy symptoms (runny nose, itchy eyes), taking an antihistamine or using a neti pot may help. However, if it’s a hereditary fat pad, the best treatment is surgery.


Rainy Days and Lattes said...

There's so much reasons for eye puffiness. I never really thought of that much! I've heard of the Neti pot but never thought it could help with puffy eyes.

I have keratosis pilaris on my arms AND legs! It's not a pretty sight =/ Exfoliation is a good idea but it's so draining to do it everyday! lol

Great tips :D Keep 'em coming :)

Eden-Avalon said...

I have KP on my upper arms and yeah, definitely not the funnest thing in the book. <3 Thanks for all these great tips!

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