Ask the Doc: Your Skincare Questions Answered

Who doesn’t want clear, youthful, healthy skin? We all do yet most of us are guilty of not caring for it properly including sun exposure, smoking and poor skin maintenance. Not only can skin issues affect your self confidence and emotional well-being, it can affect your overall health. The following questions are an accumulation of some of the most common questions doctors are asked every day. Please read these and ask your doctor these questions yourself. Treat your skin right as it will be with you for a lifetime! Your dermatologist is your skin’s best friend.

How do I check for skin cancer?

The sooner the better when it comes to identifying and treating potential or actual skin cancer. If you have any new and/or unusual spots or changes to spots, freckles or moles on your body see your doctor.  Have your doctor scan your body for any issues so that you have a base level to continue checking on your own. Then check your own skin regularly from the soles of your feet to your scalp to between your fingers and toes. Set up a regular schedule to visit your doctor to check your skin.

Can certain medicines make my skin more sensitive to the sun?

Yes, even over-the-counter drugs can increase your photosensitivity! First of all, know your meds and always ask your doctor or pharmacist if anything you are taking could cause sun sensitivity. Among others, retinoids, retin A and doxycycline can increase sensitivity to the sun. To minimize the risk of adverse reactions to sun and heat, take these precautions: stay hydrated, always seek shade, use sunscreen and wear a hat.

Is there any safe way to tan?

NO, NO and absolutely NO! But, most people will try anyway and if you fall into that category you must regularly apply a good sunblock or sunscreen, wear a hat and don’t sunbathe when the sun is at its’ peak. If you are going to be in the water, make sure to use a water-resistant cream and always reapply after being in the water. Avoid sun-tanning beds completely as they can also cause melanoma. The only safe way to tan is by applying tanning sprays or lotions.

What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs Surgery is an extremely precise and effective surgical process to treat skin cancer. Layers of skin with cancerous tissue are removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. It is most often used for basal or squamous cell carcinomas with the goal of removing the cancerous tissue and leaving as much healthy tissue as possible.

In what order should I apply skin products?

An easy way to remember how to apply products to your skin is by the product consistency. Always apply any medications first! Then layer your products from thin to thick. After cleansing apply medications, serums, skin treatments, moisturizer, eye cream and then sun protection most important of all.

Should I use moisturizer if I have oily skin?

Absolutely, just find the right product for your skin. Moisturizers improve skin’s hydration which is necessary for all skin types. In addition to moisturizing, they provide a protective barrier to the skin. Ask your dermatologist to recommend a quality, light and fast absorbing moisturizer for your oily skin.

Should I use retinol and how?

Not only does retinol (basically Vitamin A) help smooth fine lines and improve skin tone, it can also help with issues such as acne, warts and dark spots. Ask your doctor what strength and type is best for you. If you are a newbie, start with a lower-strength and build up. Your skin with retinol is sun sensitive so better to apply at night after cleansing. Don’t use during day as the retinol breaks down with sun exposure. Consult your dematologist for prescription strength retinol.

How do I get rid of dark under eye circles?

Most importantly, take care of yourself meaning get adequate sleep, eat healthy and exercise, treat any allergies, don’t smoke, relax, avoid stress and always apply sunscreen. If those circles still bother you, try some natural home remedies: apply cold cucumbers, tea bags or frozen spoons to the closed eyelids. Ask your dermatologist about the best skin care products for you including eye makeup remover, brightening serums and retinoid eye cream. Your doc can also recommend hyaluronic acid fillers and laser treatments if appropriate for your issues. In the meanwhile, there are many concealers on the market. Shop for the best shade to match your skin tone and always apply in thin layers to avoid caking.

Do laser treatments and chemical peels help problem skin conditions?

Both laser treatments and chemical peels can help in making skin smoother and tighter. Removing skin layers helps in reducing brown spots, blotches, wrinkles, fine lines and scars leaving skin looking younger, fresher and healthier. Always consult with your dermatologist regarding any cold sores and fever blisters you may get as well as medications and supplements you take. If you smoke, you must stop a few weeks before treatment and after.

How can I look younger without surgery?

First of all, stay out of the sun and always wear sunscreen, keep your skin hydrated, exfoliate a couple times a week, don’t smoke and eat well. If damage is already done and the gravity from natural aging has occurred, there are several non-surgical ways to rejuvenate your skin. Topical treatments and injections, laser treatments, peels, microdermabrasion and skin tightening treatments are just some of the many options available to add volume and lift as well as to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Your dermatologist can recommend the best procedure for you and put you on a maintenance program to keep a refreshed, healthy and younger looking face.

How can I get rid of adult acne?

You have waited all these years to not worry about acne and now you are grown-up with zits! It could be anything from hormones, stress and eating the wrong foods to pollution and using the wrong skin care products. There are often easy topical solutions that your dermatologist can recommend including salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid and retinoids. Whatever you do, don’t try to pop or extract any bumps on your own. Leave it to your doc to take care of. You don’t want the acne to spread nor do you want unsightly scars as a result.

How should I treat rosacea?

With more than 14 million Americans suffering from rosacea, it isn’t an uncommon problem but usually requires the professional help of your dermatologist. Although rosacea is often inherited, avoiding extreme temperatures, stress and certain foods and beverages may lessen the problem. Avoiding treating rosacea can make the problems worse. Your dermatologist can recommend topical and oral antibiotics to clear up rosacea and for some people it may need to be a life-long treatment.

What are warts and how do I get rid of them?

Warts are small benign growths caused by a virus. They usually appear on the hands and feet but can appear anywhere on the body. Don’t treat them on your own. Your dermatologist can treat and remove them.

What can I do about age spots?

Hyperpigmentation (fancy word for age spots) is caused by the sun. Whether you have them now or not, too much unprotected exposure to the sun will give them to you. If you already have them and they are bothering you, your doctor can recommend topical lightening creams and prescription strength brightening lotions as well as light therapy and laser treatments to reduce them. Always use sun protection.

At what age should I start anti-aging treatments?

Preventative care in the formative years not only creates good habits but helps prevent future problems. Using sunscreen heads the list followed by healthy eating, sufficient sleep and regular exercise. Start using the best skin care products for your skin type in your early twenties. If you have been exposed to sun in your pre-twenties and are already seeing sun damage, start immediately with the right serums, cream and antioxidants to combat your type of skin. It is never too young to start regular cancer screening with your dermatologist.