Skin is our largest organ, it makes up around 16% of our total body weight and protects all of our underlying muscle and vital organs. For this reason, we are grateful to have Dr. Ellen Gendler on our team. You ask and Dr. G answers, in simple, direct language that we can all understand! If you have a question, submit it here and she’ll answer in the next segment. You can ask her anything…
Is there a way to get rid of pimple scars?
It depends on the type of scar, but usually there is a good way to eliminate them. If the scars are shallow and have “rolling” edges (when you stretch your skin with your hands, these scars almost disappear), they can be treated with an ablative CO2 laser and will be greatly improved. Occasionally fillers can be used as well. If the scars are icepick (a deep hole), they are easily removed with a simple punch technique and a tiny suture. Interestingly, acne scars often become more prominent as we age because the skin loses elasticity and the scars are more apparent.
What is the best way to get rid of age spots…or is there a way?
I assume that you are referring to the brown spots that accrue with age and years of sun exposure, also known as “liver spots” (Oh, how I hate that term!). Those age spots are very responsive to a combination of topical therapy with Retin A and bleaching agents and laser treatments that do not have significant downtime. Obviously, maintenance is important after any of these treatments, as more sun exposure and stopping the topical treatments usually leads to recurrence. If the brown spots remain after treatment, your dermatologist should examine you to make sure that the spots are not something more serious that needs further attention.
I wake up with itchy eyes even when I have taken great care to remove my makeup. Why?
Maybe you are reacting to the type of eye makeup remover you are using? Or maybe to the makeup itself? One suggestion would be to try using an oil-free eye makeup remover and then gently washing your eyes with either Johnson’s baby shampoo or Ocu-Scrub, which is available over the counter. If this doesn’t help, try using a fragrance-free laundry detergent for your linens.
It’s winter and I’m pale-faced, do I still need to use the zinc-based SPF 50 sunscreen that casts a slight pall or will tinted moisturizer with SPF30 do the trick, for just every day running around?
That really depends on where you live and what your daily activities are. If you live in Florida and spend a good deal of time outdoors or in your car, then YES, you need a high-SPF sunscreen that is broad-spectrum. If you live in a cold climate and work in an office (and don’t sit right by a bright, sunny window), the tinted moisturizer should be sufficient for daily use.
Petroleum gets such a bad rap–Why? It really works on my dry hands and feet. Am I doing more harm than good?
No, you are not doing more harm than good, except to your clothing and anything you touch! There are other emollient creams that are excellent and less apt to stain clothes and bedsheets. If your hands are very dry, make sure that you moisturize right after each time you wash your hands. And, as for your feet, don’t use pumice stones or callus files for your heels when they are dry. That actually worsens the problem! Apply a good foot cream with lactic acid (or your petroleum jelly if you like) every night before bedtime.
I can’t believe I got Rosacea at 57. It’s persistent now for 2 months. What can I do?
I am sorry to hear you have an outbreak of rosacea, but the good news is that you didn’t have it for 57 years!
It’s not uncommon for rosacea to sprout in middle age, and there are several possible causes, though we have not yet unlocked the complete secret to this pesky condition. It tends to occur in fair-skinned people of Celtic or Northern European background, often people who have always been easy blushers or flushers. Some theories about the etiology include reactions to certain bacteria and mites that live on our skin or even in our intestines. There are things that exacerbate rosacea—things that cause the blood vessels to dilate, such as heat, sun, alcohol, spicy foods, steam rooms and saunas. It seems as though skin affected by rosacea does not like to have heavy creams and lotions applied, so you should take a look at your skin regimen and see what might be contributing. I generally recommend NON-CREAMY cleansers to be used twice daily, and often even prescribe a cleanser that contains sodium sulfacetamide, which helps combat the mites that are often on the skin. For some people, this cleansing routine and avoidance of the precipitating factors will be enough to stem the problem. If not, there are prescription medications, both topical and oral, which can help. Low doses of the antibiotic doxycycline can be very effective during a flare-up, and topical metronidazole and azelaic acid are also helpful. For those who experience rosacea as severe flushing, topical creams are available to help alleviate this problem.
You should see a board-certified dermatologist for further assistance if my cleansing recommendations are not sufficient to help you.