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September 18, 2013

Beauty Survival Guide

Don't have a dermatologist on speed dial? We enlisted some of the top skin experts to answer your questions

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Q: I can feel a pimple brewing, but it hasn't surfaced yet. How can I prevent it? —Kate Goodwin, 24, Charlottesville, Virginia

THE EXPERT: Sonya Dakar, founder of Sonya Dakar Skin Clinic in Beverly Hills, California

She says: Do this home remedy and it will be like the pimple never existed. First, clean the area with a cotton pad soaked in lemon juice or white vinegar. (Both are natural antiseptics.) Then wrap an ice cube in tissue so it won't burn your skin and gently press it on the area for a minute or two—a few seconds on, a few seconds off—to reduce any swelling. Finally, make a paste of 1 teaspoon powdered brewer's yeast and ½ teaspoon milk, put it on the spot overnight, and rinse off in the morning. The milk's lactic acid reduces inflammation, and the yeast kills the bacteria. Keep this up for a few days if necessary, and whatever you do, don't squeeze around it to bring it to the surface—that only makes things worse.

Q: I have this prickly texture under my eyes, almost like chicken skin. Help! —Ricki Penn, 35, Long Island, New York

THE EXPERT: Dr. Neil Sadick, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York

He says: Three things could be causing your problem. The most common is sebaceous hyperplasia, which is when overactive oil glands create tiny yellowish cysts that are visible because under-eye skin is so thin. It won't go away on its own; you need a fractional laser treatment to get rid of it. It could also be syringomas—overgrowths of the sweat ducts—or milia, which are tiny, pebble-like whiteheads that occur when hair follicles get blocked with keratin. (Moisturizing could actually make milia worse, especially if you're using anything rich or pore-clogging.) A fractional laser treatment or electrocautery, in which a doctor uses a tool to burn off the growths, can treat either issue. BTW: All of these conditions are benign, so remove them only if they bother you.

Q: The corners of my mouth and chin are often red, and sometimes I even get rash-like bumps. What could it be? —Kyra Breslin, 21, New York City

THE EXPERT: New York City dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner

He says: Do some detective work, reviewing what products you're using near the area. Did you switch to a different toothpaste or mouthwash, moisturizer, or even lip balm? Preservatives, fragrances and flavors (especially synthetic cinnamon and mint), and ingredients like menthol and camphor can cause contact dermatitis, an allergic or irritant-type reaction. Fluoridated toothpastes and ones with propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are also common culprits, so switching to an SLS- and fluoride-free toothpaste without synthetic flavoring should be your first step to see if the bumps clear up. If that doesn't work, see a dermatologist. It could be perioral dermatitis, a rash often caused by overuse of cortisone creams, or angular cheilitis, an inflammation and cracking at the corners of the mouth that can happen if you drool a lot in your sleep.


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