Seven Common Skin Conditions and Solutions
By Brittany Burhop Fallon, Beauty Director |
Is your skin itchy, inflamed or broken out? Whether common or rare, a skin condition can affect your life. Because your skin is the largest organ of your body and it’s exposed for the world to see, its appearance and condition can often take a toll on your self-esteem. Many common skin disorders aren’t typically curable, but can be managed and soothed using these top products that are specially designed to ease your skin woes.
According to the National Eczema Foundation, the word “eczema” is derived from a Greek word that means, “to boil over.” Also called atopic dermatitis, the skin condition causes red, inflamed, itchy patches, and discomfort. Eczema can range from mild to severe, and typically affects the insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and areas of the face, but can occur on many other places of the body.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, eczema is much more common today than it was 30 years ago, and dermatologists aren’t quite sure why. Certain trigger factors that can worsen the condition include dry skin, irritants and allergens in your environment, emotional stress and heat.
To minimize discomfort, try to shower with warm water—not super hot—and use one of products shown here at least twice a day for extended relief.
- Tammy Fender Intensive Repair Balm ($130): Chock-full of nutrient-rich, naturally healing ingredients, this intensive repair balm harnesses the “pure living energy” of plants and flowers to nourish extremely dry skin.
- Suki Butter Cream Healing Salve ($28): Especially formulated for treating eczema-prone skin, this therapeutic botanical salve reduces inflammation and locks in hydration for soothing, long-term relief.
- Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil ($48): Organically grown in Morocco, this lightweight, moisturizing oil is rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids that work to heal and condition irritated skin, especially extremely parched skin affected by eczema.
- LUSH Dream Cream ($27): This cream contains powerful skin-soothing ingredients such as oat milk, lavender and cocoa butter to help banish irritation and redness.
As the most common skin condition in the U.S., acne affects nearly 40 to 50 million Americans at any one time. No longer just a problem for teenagers, the American Academy of Dermatology reports a growing number of adults, particularly women, are getting acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
“As you continue to age and your skin changes, it’s important that you know how to treat your skin throughout the decades and major phases of life," says Kate Somerville, aesthetician and founder of Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts. "For instance, in your late 40s and beyond, you may start having hormonal issues that can cause breakouts as you approach menopause. Adult acne can negatively affect self-esteem and how you interact with others, so by taking measures to prevent and treat it with the appropriate acne treatments and products, you can help improve your quality of life."
Look for topical treatments that include benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid—two blemish-fighting ingredients that will help kill bacteria and reduce oil—but don’t expect to see clear skin overnight. Many at-home treatments require 4 to 8 weeks to notice significant improvement.
Once your acne begins to clear, continue using the products in order to prevent future breakouts, and try to avoid sun exposure, as well as touching your face with anything that may spread bacteria (especially your hands!). For pimple-free pores, try these adult-friendly editor picks.
- Dermalogica Special Clearing Booster ($45): This 24-hour treatment system features a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide concentrate, fortified with zinc sulfate, tea tree and sage, to eliminate bacteria and provide acne relief.
- Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Overnight Repair Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Pads ($39): Pre-moistened in a potent acid blend, these pore-cleaning treatment pads gently remove dead skin cells to help promote clearer skin, prevent future acne breakouts and improve the appearance of acne scarring.
- SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense ($82): An oil-free approach to treating adult acne and signs of aging, this acid-blend treatment prevents the formation of acne and minimizes hyperpigmentation while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Kate Somerville 24 Hour Pimple Punisher ($28): Conveniently packaged to include both your day and night spot treatments in one dual-sided wand, this pimple punisher features two formulas: one to fight acne during the day underneath your makeup, and one to clear your pores while you sleep.
Did you know that rosacea affects an estimated 14 million Americans? According to the National Rosacea Society, many of those who suffer with the skin disorder do not know even how to recognize or treat it. Rosacea not only causes the look of rosy cheeks—many people suffer with common symptoms of burning, itching and stinging, not to mention acne-like effects that can take a toll on a person’s confidence. In surveys conducted by the Society, more than 76 percent of rosacea patients said their condition had lowered their self-esteem.
Unfortunately, the cause of this common condition remains unknown and there is still no cure, but there are ways to soothe the pain and anxiety. For relief, keep aware of triggers that can cause a flare-up or worsen an existing one, including sun exposure, emotional stress, severe hot or cold weather, wind, alcohol, spicy foods, heavy exercise and hot baths.
“The best way to deal with redness is to prevent it,” says Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell, dermatologist and founder of VMV Hypoallergenics. "Prevention is important in all health concerns, but when it comes to rosacea and hyperreactive skin, it is vital. I suggest adopting a 'non-inflammatory' mantra which includes sleeping 7-8 hours each night, improving your diet by avoiding as many processed foods as possible, and choosing very gentle skin-care products."
Check out the products we’ve chosen to help combat your rosacea concerns.
- La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Localized Redness Intensive Serum ($40): A unique formulation to treat rosacea-prone skin, this calming serum reduces visible redness and irritation while providing 24-hour hydration to help rebuild the skin’s compromised barrier.
- Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream ($45): An immediate remedy to sooth and cool irritated skin, this oil-free cream works to reduce persistent redness and helps to avert future flare-ups while keeping the skin soft and even-toned.
- Obagi Medical RosaClear System ($135): Designed to calm and soothe rosacea symptoms, this prescription-based treatment system uses non-comedogenic ingredients to treat acne-like pimples and reduce the appearance of redness and blotchiness.
- VMV Hypoallergenics Red Better Flare-Up Balm ($50): Full of anti-inflammatory and microbe-fighting ingredients to combat various rosacea triggers, this steroid-free salve hydrates and gently soothes deep layers of the skin.
Whether it’s called “KP,” “chicken skin,” “follicular keratosis” or it’s traditional name, keratosis pilaris is not fun. More often a battle for those with very dry skin, KP refers to a skin condition of small, slightly pink or skin-colored bumps that look like goose bumps or acne and have a rough, sandpaper-like texture. Although they typically appear on the backs of the upper arms and thighs, they are also known to occur on the buttocks and lower part of the legs, as well as other areas.
According to Audrey Kunin, MD, president of Dermadoctor Inc., KP affects an estimated 40 percent of the adult population and nearly 50 to 80 percent of all adolescents worldwide. “It occurs when the body produces excess keratin, a natural protein in the skin,” says Dr. Kunin. “The keratin surrounds and entraps hair follicles in the pore, causing the formation of what we call ‘hard plugs,’ which are unfortunately often quite noticeable on the skin.”
Treatment can be frustrating because it is difficult to make the bumps go away entirely—they almost always come back, especially in cold temperatures when the skin is dry. The products we’ve selected will help eliminate acne-causing “plugs” to improve the skin’s overall texture and appearance.
Resist picking as it can lead to scarring, and in the end that may leave you worse off than the bumps themselves.
- Dermadoctor KP Duty Clinical Regimen Trio ($122): Say goodbye to your chicken skin with this dermatologist-recommended remedy that includes an exfoliating body scrub, intensive priming serum and therapeutic moisturizer to help improve the appearance and recurrence of KP.
- Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Smoothing Body Towel ($36): This daily exfoliating treatment uses textured towels saturated with targeted keratosis pilaris-fighting actives to reveal brighter, bump-free skin.
- Glytone KP Kit ($64): This two-step program works to visibly reduce keratosis pilaris by treating it with high levels of glycolic acid to remove bumps and redness for renewed smoothness and hydration.
- Fresh Umbrian Clay Treatment Bar ($38): An all-natural treatment to be used on the face or body, this skin-perfecting bar extracts toxins, soothes dryness and aids in the regeneration of healthy skin cells with its high mineral content.
Dandruff affects millions of people and can be triggered by stress, hormonal changes or genetics. “Seborrheic dermatitis, otherwise known as dandruff, is a skin condition that is clumpy and oily and causes white-to-yellow greasy scales to form on the scalp,” says Sandy St. John, regional educator for Phyto Hair Care. “Many people don’t realize that you don’t need to treat dandruff 365 days a year—it should only be treated when you have a flare up.” A lot of people living with dandruff are embarrassed about their condition, especially if it causes excessive itching or flaking that is noticeable in public environments such as work. For people with dandruff, their skin cells may mature and shed within 2-7 days, as opposed to the 30-day shedding cycle of those without dandruff. Affecting almost half of the adult population, dandruff is recurring and can fluctuate in severity as the seasons change, often worsening in the winter and improving during the summer.
Dandruff shampoos don’t all share the same formula, so look for those with key anti-flake ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, tar, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide and ketoconazole. Swap your normal shampoo with one of our top picks and see if you notice a difference.
- Philip B Anti-Flake Relief Shampoo ($35): Jam-packed with therapeutic ingredients and a unique botanical complex, this soothing shampoo hinders the organisms that intensify scalp issues and provides relief that lasts for days, even on color-treated hair.
- L’Occitane Aromachologie Anti-Dandruff Shampoo ($20): A natural complex of five essential oils including cade, tea tree, lemon, pepper and thyme, this purifying shampoo works to remove dandruff and prevent new dandruff from forming.
- Molton Brown Anti-Dandruff Jackberry Hairwash ($28): Designed to moisturize the scalp and fight dandruff, this treatment-focused shampoo uses an exotic extract from Jackberries to improve the condition and pH balance of the scalp, while simultaneously reducing oil.
- Phyto Phytheol Intense Anti-dandruff Treatment Shampoo ($24): Specially formulated with a combination of soothing and purifying ingredients, this potent shampoo treats even the most severe cases of dandruff by relieving serious scalp itchiness and eliminating the appearance of flaking.
Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that causes new skin cells to form in days rather than weeks, affects approximately 7.5 million people in the U.S. "This premature cell formation occurs because the body’s immune system sends faulty signals to the skin, telling the cells to grow too quickly," says Coral Gables, FL, dermatologist Janelle Vega, MD. "As a result, the body doesn’t shed these excess cells at an appropriate rate, causing them to pile up on the skin’s surface in raised, reddish patches. We dermatologists refer to these itchy patches as 'plaque,' and they can appear anywhere on the skin, but most tend to develop on the knees, elbows, lower back and scalp."
Scientists are still determining what happens inside the body to cause psoriasis, but they do know that many people who suffer from the condition usually have a family member with it as well. Because there are various forms of psoriasis, and the disorder can show up on parts of the body with different skin types, the method of required treatment may vary. Whether it’s a heavy cream or a potent balm, these options will provide the relief you’ve been longing for.
- First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($28): Developed with an incredibly rich, whipped texture, this healing cream provides immediate relief and visible improvement for parched, psoriasis-prone skin on both the body and face.
- Avene Akérat S Psoriasis Skin Cream ($29): Formulated to help relieve and prevent the recurrence of itching and flaking that comes with psoriasis, this soothing cream uses active ingredients to minimize rough, hardened skin and deliver intense hydration.
- FixMySkin Healing Body Balm ($12): Chock-full of healing properties, including 1 percent hydrocortisone, this compact yet powerful balm provides serious relief for your itchy skin and (bonus!) it’s convenient for traveling.
- LCN Urea 40% Chapped Skin Cream ($18): Containing 40 percent urea, a potent ingredient known to soften and calm areas affected by psoriasis, this cream provides benefits and boosts the skin’s moisture content without leaving an oily film.
When it comes to shaving, women want smooth, hairless skin, but without the dreaded razor burn it often comes with. We’ve all had it one time or another—a horrible, irritating rash that not only ruins a good shave, but also looks bad. And in more severe cases, it’s not just burn we have to deal with, but bumps too. Razor bumps are created by ingrown hairs and look like pimples or raised red welts. A common problem, razor burn and bumps are more likely to occur on many of the sensitive places women shave, including the bikini area and underarms.
To help her patients prevent this unpleasant skin condition, Smithtown, NY, dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, recommends exfoliating the area before shaving and changing the blade on the razor after five to seven shaves to minimize chance of irritation. “I also suggest shaving in the direction that the hair is growing and to rinse the area with cold water post-shave to help close up pores and help reduce the probability of forming ingrown hairs or folliculitis,” says Dr. Peredo.
If all else fails, and once again you find yourself irritated and self-conscious due to your post-shave situation, look to a topical treatment that contains anti-inflammatory and calming ingredients to ease your discomfort, as well as the red mess. Banish the burn and find relief with these editor-approved favorites.
- Peter Thomas Roth Ultra-Lite Multi-Tasking After Shave Balm ($24): Ultra-lite and calming on post-shave skin, this soothing botanical blend works to diffuse redness and sensitivity for smooth, clear skin.
- Swedish Skin Care Razor Burn Freedom For Women ($30): An instant relief for irritation and discomfort after shaving or waxing, this triple-action body and face treatment calms, comforts and hydrates tender skin with a powerful blend of antioxidants and therapeutic oils.
- Jack Black Bump Fix ($25): A powerful yet gentle acid formula, this razor bump and ingrown hair solution helps exfoliate dead skin cells to free trapped ingrown hairs and prevent new ones from forming. Effective on the legs, underarms and bikini area, it not only treats the skin, but also leaves it feeling hydrated and refreshed.
- Murad Razor Burn Rescue ($37): Designed to fight razor burn and bumps, irritation and ingrown hairs, this formula infuses skin with a blend of healing antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to reduce redness and clogged hair follicles.