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03-15-09 | Posted by


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You know those little niggling bits and flaws that show up out of nowhere on your skin?  You don’t have to live with them if you don’t want to anymore. Just pop into your doctor’s office once or twice a year for a clean up of moles, skin tags, veiny things, and the occasional freckle.

Open Pores: Pores expand because they become clogged with dead cells and oil – which make them look larger. Sun damage, lack of exfoliating, and clogging blackheads are common culprits.

What’s The Remedy? To get pores back to their normal size, you need to get rid of the blockage that causes them to expand. The key elements are unplugging the pores and cleaning dirt, bacteria and oil; limiting sun exposure; exfoliating and using the right ingredients like vitamin A, Azelaic acid, and alpha and beta hydroxy acids.

Moles: As moles age, the pigment gets deeper so they lose their colour and stick out more, which makes them more visible.

What is the remedy?  A simple shave biopsy can bring the mole down to the level of your surrounding skin. If done right, it doesn’t even leave a scar. Moles can also be excised, but then a scar is a given.

Skin Tags: A skin tag is a bit of skin that sticks out and may appear attached to the skin. They may be smooth or irregular, flesh colored or pigmented, raised or dangling. They can show up almost anywhere, but most commonly appear on the eyelids, neck, armpits, and chest, and especially in women.

What is the remedy? They can be instantly snipped away almost painlessly with surgical scissors.

Seborrheic Keratoses: Called “barnacles of old age,” these benign lesions occur from excessive growth of the top layer of skin cells. They show up on the body, under the breasts, shoulders, and in places where they get rubbed by clothing. They can range from light tan to black in colour, and look like they have been pasted on your skin.

What is the remedy? Electrocautery or hot iron tip can be used to melt these right off. Carbon dioxide laser is also useful.

Dermatoses Papulosa Nigra:  These little black or dark brown bumps that usually appear on dark skin, and start out as little freckles under the eyes and on the top of the cheekbones. They can grow in clusters, and tend to run in families.

What is the remedy? Electrocautery or hot iron tip can be used to melt these right off.

Xantholasma: Yellowish fatty or cholesterol deposits that tend to show up around the eyelids.

What is the remedy? Carbon dioxide lasers can melt them away. They can also be excised if they are really deep, but this can leave a small scar.

Eccrine Spiradenoma:  These are little flesh toned bumps that tend to show up under the eyelids.

What is the remedy? Electrocautery or hot iron tip can be used to melt these right off. Lasers also work.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia: Enlarged sebaceous glands and the pore looks like a pit in the middle. They are often yellowish, soft, and rounded. They usually show up on the forehead, cheeks, and nose, or areas of the face that have a large concentration of oil glands.

What is the remedy? Electrocautery or hot iron tip can be used to melt these right off. Lasers can also be used to get rid of them. 

Spider Veins: Spider veins or “telangiectasias” are commonly found around the nose and cheeks, legs, chest, and almost anywhere. They are small, super fine capillaries that lie close to the skin’s surface. They can show up as a true spider shape with a squiggly mass of capillaries radiating out from a dark center, resemble tiny branches or appear as thin separate lines. They are more common in women, especially when estrogen levels rise. 

What is the remedy? Vascular lasers and light sources cause tiny veins to collapse; electrocautery is sometimes used. For leg veins, sclerotherapy injections are also used, in which a solution is injected into the veins, causing them to collapse.

Milia: These are clogged ducts or teeny sebaceous cysts on the face. Milia can show up around the eyes, cheekbones, and on the forehead. Over moisturizing or using too creamy products can be the culprit. Sun damage and laser treatments are also possible causes.

What is the remedy? Your doctor may use a small needle or blade to pluck out the glob of thickened oil. They can be treated by extraction, and microdermabrasion and peels can also help.

Shaving Bumps: Called Psudo-Folliculitis Barbae, shaving bumps are a widespread problem, especially among women with curly hair and in the bikini area and underarms. As the hair follicle grows out of the skin, it immediately curls and re-enters the skin. The skin becomes inflamed and irritated, creating bumps.

What is the remedy? Wash the area twice daily with an exfoliant to raises the hairs from under the skin and prevent them from growing back into the skin. This should be done twice a day.  Bumps can also be relieved by using glycolic acid lotions, antibiotic gels, and Retin-A®. Other options include laser treatments to remove the hair follicles.

Keratosis Pilaris:  A genetic condition of the follicles that sometimes resembles acne, but appears as rough bumps on the upper arms, backs of the thighs, and buttocks. It is also common in teens.

What is the remedy? Common remedies include exfoliating, moisturizing, and using Retin-A® or an alpha hydroxy acid. Avoid scratching the bumps, as this may lead to scarring or spreading.

Poikiloderma: Excessively pigmented areas (brownish, reddish) particularly on the chest and neck, caused by long-term sun exposure.

What is the remedy? Lasers can target the blood vessels and clear up the spotty appearance of skin.

Redness: Redness is actually a sign of ageing and skin thinning – tiny red veins peek through the skin that creates blushing. The hallmark of rosacea, also called “the curse of the Celts,” is facial flushing in response to sun exposure, red wine, spices, smoking, and steam heat. The exact origin is often related to the blood vessels; most people have some broken capillaries and redness around the nose, cheeks, and chin. Hormones play a role in rosacea, and flare ups are more likely during your monthly period or with menopause.

What is the remedy? The most common treatments for rosacea include topical antibiotics and oral medications.  Pulsed dye laser and intense pulsed light are the gold standard for zapping the redness of rosacea. The pulsed dye laser is good for thicker blood vessels, while intense pulsed light treatments work nicely for fine vessels. No topical vitamin K cream can visibly shrink a capillary, but it may reduce redness.

Age Spots: They may be called freckles when you are young, and some people even think they are cute, but in your 40s, they appear as dark brown patches that come up from sun exposure.

What is the remedy? Age spots on the face or hands can be treated with bleaching agents, peels, and lasers. Hydroquinone is a doctor’s staple for lightening excessively pigmented skin, but it is off the market in Europe and Japan. Kojic acid is an alternative skin lightener derived from a Japanese mushroom that is usually used in combination with other ingredients. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels uncover a fresh layer of skin; glycolic and salicylic acids exfoliate, which helps lightening agents penetrate better.

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