Beauty

Help for 5 common skin problems

Author: Canadian Living

Beauty

Help for 5 common skin problems

Ask a group of women what they love about their skin and they'll likely respond with frustrated silence. It seems every woman has a flaw she's fighting. And with the seemingly endless array of skin solutions on offer, it's hard to know where to start. Our dermatologist-in-the-know helps clear up some common concerns – and hopefully your skin, too.

1. Acne
"Multiple factors are thought to be important in causing acne," says Dr. Jerry Tan, medical director of the Healthy Image Centre for Cosmetic Dermatology in Windsor, Ont.

Androgenic hormones are a primary trigger – they increase the production of oil, which can lead to a buildup, blocking pores. The situation can worsen as bacteria starts to grow.

Clear it
"Effective treatment starts with an education about the nature of the problem," says Tan. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the acne. Mild acne may be improved with cleansers, gels and creams, while more serious cases may require antibiotics or hormone pills. Very severe cases may best be relieved by more powerful prescription medications, while a range of cases may benefit from acne facials and therapeutic light treatments.

2. Brown spots

Freckles may be cute on the young and pigtailed, but there's nothing darling about wayward brown spots on your face in adulthood. Often hereditary or the product of sun exposure (or a combination of both), these dark dots can be treated with a tiered system, says Tan.

Clear it
Sun protection keeps pigmentation production at bay, while fading creams, including tretinoin, alpha hydroxy acids and hydroquinone, can gently lighten the brown spots. For a more prompt solution, liquid nitrogen, intense light therapy and lasers may brighten the situation, says Tan.


Page 1 of 2 – Dull skin, dark circles or fine lines have you down? Read Dr. Tan's best treatment tips for these common skin troubles on page 2.

3. Dullness
That not-so-glowing look is a result of a combination of dead skin buildup, reduced skin turnover and decreased circulation, says Tan. Sun damage, smoking and certain medical issues (neurologic, circulatory, kidney and liver) may also be to blame.

Clear it
To get your glow back, quit smoking and stay out of the sun, says Tan. Gentle exfoliation, including glycolic acid creams, facial peels and microdermabrasion, can help slough off dead skin and jump-start the cell turnover process. Treating any underlying medical conditions can also help matters.

4. Dark circles
if you suffer from dark circles under your eyes, blame Mom and Dad, because genetics is a definite factor. Recurring inflammation and swelling around the eyes causes pigmentation to deposit into the skin, leading to the dark rims below your lower lashes. Over time, skin tends to thin, which makes the circles appear even more prominent, says Tan.

Clear it
The simplest solution is to cover the shadows with a yellow- or orange-based concealer. Beyond that, lightening facial creams with the active ingredient hydroquinone may help, says Tan. But treating the underlying cause of swelling (such as seasonal allergies) is a good start. Laser treatment may help reduce the appearance of facial veins – though care must be taken around the eyes.

5. Fine lines

While the causes vary depending on location, fine lines and wrinkles are largely a result of repeated muscle action, says Tan. Excess skin, the force of gravity, sun exposure and "the inexorable march of time" all lead to loss of collagen and elastic tissue.

Clear it
While quitting smiling is out of the question, you can take action to reduce fine lines. Wear sunglasses to prevent squinting and quit smoking to avoid those "purse-string lines around the mouth." While Botox and consistent sun protection can help – Botox temporarily fills the lines while sunscreen prevents further damage – getting adequate rest, staying toned and healthy, and avoiding weight fluctuations are all incredibly important, says Tan. Tretinoin-laced creams can also help boost collagen production.

This story was originally titled "Love Your Skin Now" in the October 2011 issue.

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Beauty

Help for 5 common skin problems

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