What is going on with my skin?!?

There are days/weeks/months that this phrase goes through my head. Even as a dermatologist I have bad (sometimes very bad) skin days. Often it is due to trying out a new product (occupational hazard), but sometimes I cannot figure out what caused the decompensation in my skin.

So what should you do if you wake up with a terrible breakout or rash? Here are the rules that I try to follow- though sometimes I break them.

  1. Minimize products. Stop all but the most basic skin care products. Especially stop new products, they might be the culprit. I try to stick with a gentle cleanser (such as cetaphil or ceraVe) and gentle moisturizer (again cetaphil or ceraVe are good choices). Use only the amount of makeup needed to be presentable. Stop all anti-aging (such as retin-A) products.
  2. Try very hard to avoid treating the breakout with new products. In general, topical acne products are irritating and can make an acute breakout look and feel worse. Try to avoid cortisone creams unless you know the rash is eczema. Cortisone will make rosacea and ringworm worse. If this is an allergic reaction the new product may have the same allergen (which could be common to many products).
  3. Try not to pick. It can cause scarring.
  4. Avoid harsh environments if possible. Sun, sweat, and snow will likely make things worse. Your skin is out of balance and these conditions make your skin work harder to maintain balance.
  5. Don’t get a facial or go to the department store/drugstore. See number 2 above. This will likely make things worse and you’ll be out a few (hundred?) bucks as well.
  6. Be gentle with your body. Get adequate sleep, eat healthy, drink water (not alcohol). The skin is the largest organ of the body and will reflect how you are caring for yourself.
  7. Lastly, if the skin madness lasts longer than a week, call your dermatologist. We can usually help.

I hope this post helps you through the next bad skin day!

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