4 Frustrating Skin Issues—And How To Fix Them On Any Budget
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Skin hang-ups bringing you down (and keeping you covered from head to toe)? We've got effective fixes for common skin issues that may be contributing to your refusal to bare some skin. Read on and find out how to make them history.
Rough, bumpy skin on your butt, thighs, and the backs of your upper arms is the hallmark of this very common—though totally harmless—condition. Keratosis pilaris (KP) looks like tiny pimples, but it's actually a buildup of dead cells around individual hair follicles, explains Mary Lupo, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. A chronic problem that can be treated but not cured, KP frequently—and inexplicably—improves during the summer and sometimes even gets better with age.
At Home: Daily use of a fine-grain scrub spiked with an exfoliant like retinol, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or alpha hydroxy acid, which slough dead cells from the skin's surface and keep follicles from getting plugged up, can offer improvement within a couple of months, says Anne Chapas, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. We saw results in just two weeks with the glycolic and lactic acid-packed Dermadoctor KP Duty scrub (, dermadoctor.com).
In Office: Non-particle microdermabrasion uses a wand covered with natural diamond chips to gently exfoliate and remove the topmost layer of skin while simultaneously vacuuming away the dead cells. You'll see a significant improvement in KP after two or three weekly treatments, which run about 0 to 0 each. If residual redness persists, intense pulsed light therapy (IPL)—which uses high-intensity pulses of light to target pigment in the skin—may help destroy the redness that creates the polka-dot effect. Each IPL treatment costs 0 to 0, and you'll likely need at least three sessions.
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Usually the result of a dramatic increase in weight (whether during pregnancy or otherwise), the streaks appear when skin-supporting collagen and elastin fibers that allow skin to stretch break apart.
At Home:Dab a prescription retinoid cream like Renova on your stretch marks—especially if they appeared within the last 6 months. "Retinoids help form new collagen and elastin, which can help stretch marks blend in with your normal skin," says David Duffy, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California. In a University of Michigan Medical Center study, 80% of patients who treated recent stretch marks with a retinoid cream for 6 months saw a decrease in both the length and width of the marks.
In Office:Consider a fractional laser skin care treatment like Fraxel, which stimulates collagen production by heating the lower layer of the skin. The laser emits a very thin beam of infrared light that makes thousands of microscopic wounds over only 20% of your skin—the surrounding tissue is left untouched. This "fractional" approach allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once, says Roy Geronemus, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center. It also means that side effects—including pain—are minimal; mild swelling and redness subside in a few days. The drawbacks: each treatment costs about 0, and as many as five sessions are necessary to see optimal results.
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The good news: These bright red spots (cherry hemangiomas, in medical speak) are harmless. Exactly what causes cherry spots, a collection of capillaries that commonly appear on the chest, stomach, and back, is a mystery, though experts believe they may be hereditary. The bad news: they tend to grow in number and size with age, though they rarely become larger than a pencil eraser.
At Home: There's no effective over-the-counter treatment for cherry spots, but concealer can help camouflage them. Duffy recommends using a heavy-duty opaque cover-up, such as CM Beauty Classic Cover (, cm-beauty.com). If your skin tone is fair to medium, applying self-tanner or dusting on bronzer can also reduce the color contrast between the spots and your skin.
In Office: A dermatologist can zap away cherry spots—wherever they are on the body—using a potassium titanyl phosphate laser (KTP), which zeros in on blood vessels to knock out redness. Although you'll shell out 0 to 0 a session, the results are worth it: Only one treatment, on average, is needed to remove spots entirely, though 2 to 3 are recommended.
Photo by Svetlana Khvorostova/Getty Images
After shaving or waxing, the curly hairs in your bikini area sometimes get trapped inside the follicle or grow back into the surrounding skin, causing painful, red, pimple-like "bikini bumps."
At Home:Gentle use of a body scrub or wash cloth every other day will help dislodge trapped hairs and prevent their return. For a chronic case, try a product such as Tend Skin (, tendskin.com), which exfoliates the dead cells that block hair growing out of the skin. Follow up with a pimple medication containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, like Arithmetic's Acne Control Complex 3% benzoyl peroxide spot treatment (, arithmeticproducts.com), to reduce inflammation and stave off bacteria that can lead to infection, says Cindy Barshop, owner of Completely Bare, a New York City–based spa that specializes in hair removal.
In Office:If ingrown hairs become infected, see your doctor. They'll likely give you a prescription-strength antibiotic lotion to kill bacteria and a steroid cream to quell swelling and redness. If you're especially prone to bikini bumps, consider laser hair removal, which eliminates the problem entirely.
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