Our skin is our bodies largest, most visibly valuable organ. We spend our lives being concerned about its condition, whether it be as a result of something inherent or developed over the years. Our skin is our most significant indicator in identifying someones age and lifestyle and I don’t know many people who have said out loud, “I have perfect skin.”
And thank goodness for that because they’d deserve a slap on their blemish-free face for being so full of themselves. In any case, we all have our own skinsecurities that aren’t so much a noticeable problem to others as they are a noticeable problem to ourselves. For some, these skinsecurities are on our body and for others they’re on our face and many of them seem mysteriously rare, making you feel like you’re the 1 percent of people having a real dermatological crisis. So let’s talk this out because once you figure out what it is, you’ll know how to fix it.
What It Looks Like:
What it’s called: Milia
What you’re seeing: Scattered white bumps under your eyes.
What they are: Tiny, white, pissed off cysts. Milia is most commonly caused by skin cells becoming trapped beneath the skins surface when your skin fails to exfoliate naturally, causing clogged, unpoppable bumps, which you should under no circumstance attempt to do.
What causes them: Sun exposure is one of the most common causes of milia, as well as from the use of a product that is much too heavy for the skin on our faces. Ahem, tanning lotions, tanning oils etc. Shame on you, and shame one me because that’s exactly what I did, and tanning’s exactly why my undereye area looks like a pin map for Manhattan Starbucks locations.
Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System, $29.99 from Amazon
How to treat them: Most dermatologists first recommend regular exfoliation. Monthly facials with a microdermabrasion treatment is also recommended if you have the time, money or patience for it. If you haven’t had a microdermabrasion treatment from a facial technician at a spa, I highly recommend you try it at least once. It’s not the most comfortable or soothing sensation, in fact it feels like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland is trying to lick the skin off of your face, but I have to say, it left me visibly glowing and refreshed. Once you’ve exhausted your exfoliation options, as I have, you may want to call up your dermatologist who is able to easily and safely remove your milia by opening the overlying skin with a needle. Typically the milia pops out very easily. Since nothing has worked for me personally, I plan on making my dreaded milia extraction appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible. And if you were wondering, my personal expectations for sustained vision and/or survival are low.
What It Looks Like:
What it’s called: Keratosis Pilaris
What You’re seeing: Little, white or red bumps that often have a scabby texture. They typically appear on the back of your arms, face or thighs.
What they are: KP is caused by extra skin cells building up around hair follicles making it especially tricky for tiny hairs to break through the the surface of your skin, also known as follicular acne. Isn’t that exciting. Each clogged follicle appears as a reddish, brownish or whiteish army of raised bumpy dots, making them noticeable — and in my experience, embarrassing. Anyone with KP has been convinced by a friend that they’re not noticeable only to be approached by a rude A-hole with no social antennae who asks, “Hey! What’s that on your arm?” That’s funny, I was wondering the same thing about your face? Oh, it’s my martini, how sad for you.
What causes them: Thank your parents for these little bastards because they’re hereditary. What can make them worse is any form of irritation, exfoliation or sun exposure. However I have heard differing opinions in regards to exfoliation. In my experience, exfoliating smooths things out a little, however if you’ve attempted to treat these bumps with exfoliation and they’ve become more irritated, then simply discontinue use of exfoliants and stick to lotions with lactic or glycolic acids such as Avene Cleanance K Cream Gel
Avène Cleanance K 40 Ml. 1.35 Fl.oz, $19.00 from Amazon
How to treat it: Most of the time, KP resolves itself with age, and it is a skin condition most grow out of. Unfortunately, for those of us who still have to look at our chicken skin, we can improve the condition of the area, but we can’t cure it. Since my particular KP issue is mainly dry or mildly scabbed bumps, I find exfoliating really smooths out those bumps. I follow up my weekly back of the arm exfoliation with a lotion called DERMAdoctor Handy Manum Medicated Skin Repair Serum with 1 percent Hydrocortisone. I’ve just recently begun this treatment but according to the DERMAdoctor website, clinical trials revealed 94 percent of subjects with moderate to severe forms of KP, had clinical improvement. Not only was skin moisturized up to 218 percent, but those awful little bumps also subsided dramatically. [via DERMAdoctor]
DERMAdoctor Handy Manum Medicated Skin Repair Serum with 1% Hydrocortisone, 1 oz, from Amazon
What It Looks Like:
What It’s Called: Rosacea
What You’re Seeing: Unprovoked redness, typically on the cheeks, and around the nose.
What It Is: An inflammatory condition that causes the appearance of flushed redness around the face often accompanied by broken blood vessels. It is often mistaken for acne and in more severe cases rosacea can produce red, pimple-like bumps.
What Causes it: Often times it’s caused by your own biological predisposition to flushing or redness depending on how vascular you are. There are varying forms of rosacea with drastically differing degrees in severity. The most common form of rosacea is caused by sun exposure and the damage that has been done usually appears in the form of redness near the cheeks and broken blood vessels, especially around the nose.
How to Treat it: There are topical prescriptions and oral medications for rosacea in the most severe cases. But first, before you hunt down the nearest dermatologist and demand a prescription, try something less expensive and more accessible like Eurcerin Calming Creme. If ointments aren’t work for you, there is the very pricey option of laser treatments to reduce the appearance of redness and sun damage. If you choose to go this route I highly recommend going to a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon who is likely to have a highly trained esthetichian on staff. Don’t just head over to your local spa and hope a 22-year-old named Nikki knows what the hell she’s doing.
Eucerin Dry Skin Therapy Calming Creme, 8-Ounce Tubes (Pack of 3), $19.00 from Amazon
Stay tuned for next weeks Body Image Issues: Skinsecuritites Part II
What are your Skinsecurities and what to you do to treat them or cover them up?