Are these the secrets to great skin?
You’ve got a million things on your to-do list. The temperature has suddenly dropped thirty degrees, leaving your skin as dry as the desert, and you just spotted an unsightly pimple forming on your forehead.
Does this sound familiar?
Here are some possible reasons for your sudden misfortune, and a couple things you can do to get back that flawless face.
If you’ve ever broken out after a long week of school, work or life, then you can vouch that stress plays a factor in your skin’s health.
“There are studies that show a link between stress and acne, but how much stress affects acne varies widely from person to person,” says Dr. Stephen Carter, a dermatologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “For the most part, stress in our lives comes from situations that are difficult or impossible to change, such as work, health, money and relationships. And for some individuals, acne itself can be a major stressor, so sometimes, treating the acne can even provide some stress relief.”
If the chilly weather has your skin feeling flaky, itchy and just downright dry, you’re not alone. Dr. Carter attributes skin dryness to a lack of the skin’s natural oils, which can be caused by low humidity, excessive exfoliation or washing your face with harsh soaps. Other factors can include inherited skin types or just the natural aging process.
“The best way to keep your skin hydrated is to wash with gentle, soap-free skin cleanser and moisturize morning and night,” says Dr. Carter. “Younger people typically respond best to an oil-free facial moisturizer. As we age, it may be necessary to transition to a heavier moisturizing cream or ointment and more frequent application of moisturizer in order to maintain good hydration.”
There are hundreds of over-the-counter products to treat acne-prone skin. When choosing, Dr. Carter recommends looking for two ingredients: benzoyl peroxide and adapalene (differin) gel.
“Both of these ingredients are found in prescription strength medications and can be very effective for treating acne,” says Dr. Carter. “The downside to almost all acne treatments is that they can cause dryness and redness of the skin. Many individuals make the mistake of using too many products, scrubbing or exfoliating too much, or applying too much medication.”
Dr. Carter suggests following a simple regimen of gentle cleansing, applying medication and moisturizing. If you have tried over-the-counter treatment for two-three months and have not seen improvement, it is time to see a dermatologist.
About the Author
Adila Esaak is a senior at Loyola University of Chicago. This spring, she will receive her B.S. in Health Systems Management. During her time at Loyola, she worked at the university’s Wellness Center and started a chapter organization for underprivileged children and women in India called Aahana. In her spare time, she enjoys going to arcades, cuddling with her cat and exploring Chicago.