How to Save Face

Causes-and cures-for six of the toughest grown-up skin problems

Rosacea

What Causes it?

Blushing can get you a little red in the face. Excessive heat, sunlight, hot beverages and alcohol can also cause blood to rush to the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. Normally the blood vessels in your face fill up, you turn red, and then you return to your natural hue in a few minutes. But with rosacea, the blood surge causes blood vessels to burst, leaving behind tiny red lines and overall redness. Dry, itchy eyes are also common, as are acne-like bumps on the face. It usually runs in families and occurs most commonly in fair-skinned women.

Is it Preventable?

Avoiding the triggers that cause your face to flush is the best way to prevent rosacea breakouts. Daily sunscreen use can also limit redness. Concealers with green tint can mute redness. Dr. Friedman recommends using a gentle face wash such as Cetaphil or Purpose.

How can I treat it?

Topical antibiotics such as metronidazole gel can help, as can sulfur face washes (available by prescription). Pulsed-dye laser treatment can erase the red lines caused by broken blood vessels. Most patients see results in three to five treatments, Dr. Friedman says.

 

Seborrheic Dermatitis

What Causes it?

You know that dandruff you get on your scalp? Well the same thing can happen on your face, specifically between the eyebrows, along the sides of the nose and the nasolabial folds—the creases between the sides of the nose and corners of the mouth. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis, or “face dandruff,” is unknown but yeast on the skin may play a role, as well as genetic, hormonal, immune system or environmental factors. Stress and exhaustion can trigger it.

Is it Preventable?

Doctors aren’t sure what causes seborrheic dermatitis, but washing the affected areas regularly can help reduce outbreaks.

How can I treat it?

Some cases respond well to simply using dandruff shampoo as a facial cleanser. Dr. King recommends over-the-counter cortisone and anti-fungal creams. In more extreme cases, prescription-strength creams can help.

 

Oily Skin

What Causes it?

How many French fries you eat has little to do with whether your skin will be oily or not. Rather, blame hormones and your genes for a shiny face.

Is it Preventable?

Avoiding sweaty situations, such as sports and warm-weather days, can keep oil production down. But who wants to stay indoors on a beautiful summer day? Instead, Dr. Friedman recommends that you opt for oil-free face washes that contain salicylic acid, which reduce oil on the skin. Benzoyl peroxide creams can also be helpful, though they can cause dryness.

How can I treat it?

Use a gentle oil-free cleanser and oil-free moisturizer if needed, Dr. King says.

 

Eczema

What Causes it?

Eczema is an inflammatory condition characterized by dry, scaly, red patches. It can occur on the face and is most common during the winter months. Immune system factors predispose people to eczema, and exposure to irritants such as harsh soaps can cause it to flare up. Emotional stress is also a trigger.

Is it Preventable?

Avoid taking long, hot showers or being out in the cold too long, says Dr. King. Use a humidifier at home to keep your skin hydrated.

How can I treat it?

Moisturizers and steroid creams can help heal the skin. Eczema can be itchy, but try not to scratch it because you might break the skin, allowing bacteria to get in and slow the healing process. Once your skin is smooth again, don’t get lax—continue moisturizing and using any prescribed lotions to prevent the condition from returning.

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