Lifestyle Style At-Home Solutions to Four Common Skin Concerns, According to Dermatologists Getting your best skin ever just got easier thanks to these tips and tricks from the pros By Holly Carter Published on May 2, 2022 09:15 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Photo: Science Photo/Getty Feeling comfortable in your skin is so important, so when we have epidermis issues, naturally it's unnerving — but it's not uncommon. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), one in three Americans suffer from some skin condition at any given time; that might be acne, eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea. These inflammatory conditions all involve a compromised skin barrier, or stratum corneum, responsible for protecting the body from toxins, chemicals, and germs. So, keeping skin healthy is essential. Beyond visiting the dermatologist, which is always recommended, there are specific ways to control these skin issues and strengthen the skin barrier with your everyday routine. Here, three top dermatologists weigh in to help you get a handle on it at home. ADULT ACNE Many of us are no strangers to acne: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it's the most common skin condition in the U.S., affecting 50 million people annually. Its causes are many—stress, diet, pollution, personal habits, hormones, and genetics. But regardless of acne's roots, how it pops up is always the same. "In general acne occurs when a pore becomes clogged with excess sebum or oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and other debris," explains board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD. "The pore becomes inflamed, leading to the blemishes that we call pimples or acne." Dr. Dendy Engelman. Nicolas Gerardin While acne's genesis sounds pretty straightforward, the treatment can be extremely specific to each person. Figuring out the best regimen starts by determining what type of acne you have, says Dr. Engelman: "Whiteheads and blackheads are milder forms of acne, so over-the-counter products that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol are often effective." These products work by killing bacteria, drying excess oil, and forcing skin to shed dead cells. Cystic acne or larger and boil-like pimples might require prescription oral antibiotics used in combination with a topical treatment containing retinoids. From there, everyday skincare, including cleanser and moisturizer, should be kept gentle, says Naana Boakye, MD MPH, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Inside Out Beauty: Your Prescription for Healthy, Radiant, and Acne Controlled Skin. She recommends adding in a mineral-based sunscreen with iron oxide to control hyperpigmentation, a common complaint of many of her patients with darker skin. Dr. Boakye is also a proponent of making lifestyle adjustments to tackle acne. "I recommend that all my patients be more plant forward—half your plate should really be vegetables all the time," she says. All the fiber and micronutrients in them can help with your gut, which impacts your skin. Exercising 30 minutes a day and getting seven to nine hours of sleep nightly are also important. Dr. Naana Boakye. Xiana Gutierrez By C'est La Zee Photography And you don't want to negate all your efforts with the ultimate acne offense: picking. "Patients often have compulsions to pick at the skin and breakouts, creating deeper and more severe skin damage and scars," says board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University Jessica Weiser, MD. Though cystic pimples alone can cause textural scars, the smaller comedones and pustules rarely cause permanent scarring — unless they're picked to the point of causing damage. So hands off! ECZEMA The origins of eczema are a bit more complex says Dr. Boakye, noting that the inflammatory condition otherwise known as atopic dermatitis is often made up of a combination of genetic, immune dysregulation, and skin barrier dysfunctionality components. Although eczema can affect anyone, it's seen mostly in children, but it can persist through adulthood. Those with eczema experience flare-ups that involve itchiness, redness, excessive dryness, and sometimes cracks in the skin. The good news is that eczema symptoms can be mitigated. "The most important aspect of treatment is restoring skin barrier function," says Dr. Weiser. That means using products that are super gentle (especially for the face) and keeping skin well moisturized. Dr. Engelman even recommends baby formulas like Cetaphil Baby Soothing Washand Cetaphil Baby Eczema Soothing Lotionfor the face. When it comes to moisturization, look for cream that is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and includes ingredients like urea and ceramides (like Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream) and always apply it to damp skin for better absorption. iStockphoto/Getty Dr. Boakye even suggests alternative therapies like adding a half cup of bleach to bath water to control flare ups (though advises you consult with your doctor before trying it). "For those with eczema, you're colonized with staph," she explains. "Doing a bleach bath is anti-inflammatory, gets rid of those bad staph … and then your skin barrier is able to repair itself a little bit better." Another remedy to restore skin? Sleeping with a humidifier nearby. "It's a great way to prevent transepidermal water loss, especially while you sleep, during which time your skin barrier is more vulnerable to water loss as you're not actively supplementing moisture by applying topical products or drinking water," says Dr. Engelman. PSORIASIS What we don't know: the exact cause of psoriasis. But we do know that it produces inflammation in the body due to a dysfunction in the immune system. Anyone can get it, and symptoms include raised plaques and scales on skin (often on elbows, knees, and the scalp) that tend to itch, burn, or sting. "Whereas normal skin cells grow and shed in a month, skin cells with psoriasis do this in three or four days," says Dr. Engelman. "But instead of skin shedding, it piles up on the surface, creating these scales." There's no cure for psoriasis, but you can manage it by keeping skin pliable to reduce inflammation and itchiness. For the face, Dr. Engelman suggests double cleansing with first a cleansing oil followed by a gentle face wash. Next a hydrating lotion with ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamides will help nourish and hydrate the skin barrier. For the body, look for psoriasis-specific lotions with emollients, coal tar, salicylic acid, vitamin D analogues, and corticosteroids. Also, essential oils like rose can help calm redness while lavender can be useful in boosting circulation and reducing scarring, says Dr. Engelman. Be sure to wear mineral sunscreen daily to reduce inflammation from sun exposure and consider other triggers like extreme temps, smoking, emotional stress, and once again, diet. Says Dr. Engelman, "Some people with psoriasis have seen improvements after cutting out nightshades such as tomato, eggplant, bell pepper, and potato." Dr. Jessica Weiser. Vanessa Corral of Vanessa Corral Photography ROSACEA This is another chronic inflammatory condition that can present itself on the face in three ways, explains Dr. Weiser. The erythematotelangiectatic type shows up as redness or flushing with broken capillaries; papulopustular involves bumps and pimples; and phymatous comes with skin thickening typically in the nose area, she explains. Rosacea rarely affects the body, and while women are more commonly affected than men, male patients typically have the disease more severely, says Dr. Weiser. The same gold standard, anti-inflammatory treatment protocol applies. Stick to gentle skincare products free of dyes, fragrances, and other irritants. Instead, apply creams and serums with hydrating ingredients like peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, suggests Dr. Engelman. Skincare with ingredients like aloe vera, cucumber extract, squalene, and CBD can also have a calming effect. Dr. Engelman also recommends using a tinted moisturizer with SPF to help reduce the appearance of redness while protecting against sun exposure, a major stressor. As Dr. Weiser explains it, the main goal of your at-home regimen is to avoid these triggers which also include heat, spicy foods, caffeine, or anything else that causes blood vessel dilation.