August 31 2014

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Don’t Pick Your Skin; Pick An Acne Wash


This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders, on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. To submit a question, e-mail celia_

I sometimes get blackheads in “inopportune places,” like inside my nostril, on my lip line, or in my ear and they don’t seem to go away. Why is this happening and what can I do to prevent it from persisting?

Blackheads or the more medically correct term comedone, develop when a skin pore becomes clogged or blocked by bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells. While they commonly form in the T-zone of the face where most sebaceous glands are located, they can essentially form anywhere and treatment is not always easy: unfortunately, you cannot simply wash them away. The most important thing to avoid is picking your skin. Instead, begin by changing your routine. Acne therapy is designed to prevent tomorrow’s breakout, so it’s good to start by adding a cleanser with a little glycolic or salicylic acid. This will unstick the glue between your skin cells and help to loosen the blackheads. If that doesn’t work. you may need to see your dermatologist to begin using a prescription medication like Retin-A or Tazorac. Finally, mild chemical peels and mechanical extraction (done by a professional, not your fingertips) can make all the difference in achieving clear skin.

A member of the American Academy of Dermatology and an Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, Debra J. Wattenberg has a cosmetic dermatology practice in New York City, where she specializes in antiaging cosmetic procedures, as well as the prevention and early detection of skin cancer. In addition to making regular television appearances as a skincare expert, she has served as a consultant to some of the leading cosmetic companies in the world, including Procter & Gamble’s Dove advisory council, Medicis, Allergan, and La Roche-Posay.

Photo: Courtesy of Dermalogica

The Doctor Is In