Dr Ian Webster
Dr Ian Webster

6 Common Skin Mistakes People Make (According to our Dermatologist)

Mistake #1 Using the Wrong Cleanser

Using the wrong cleanser for your specific skin concern and skin type can cause many problems including the disruption of the skin barrier or irritant contact dermatitis.

I see this especially in teenagers with acne where they use harsh foaming cleansers to try and scrub away their acne which results in irritant contact dermatitis.

The key to a good skin routine is a gentle but thorough cleansing of the skin. This is especially important for women who wear make-up – their evening cleansing routine should include the removal of all the make-up and residue. A good quality silicone cleansing device together with the correct cleanser provides gentle and efficient cleansing.

For most people a gentle but thorough cleansing once a day at night is sufficient but one may want to use mild Micellar water in the mornings to freshen the skin before the application of day creams or make-up. Those with oily skins may feel the need to cleanse twice a day but again only with a gentle, skin appropriate cleanser.

Mistake #2 Introducing Active Skin Care Ingredients Too Quickly

Introducing active skincare ingredients too quickly can result in a disrupted skin barrier or an irritant contact dermatitis, which can lead people to believe they are ‘allergic’ or too sensitive for active ingredients.

Each person is unique and so is their skin. Introducing active ingredients such as retinoids will depend on how tolerant their skin is but my suggestion is to always introduce it at night and slowly over a period of time. The stronger retinoids, for those with non-sensitive skins, can be used on Monday, Wednesday & Friday nights for 2 weeks and then depending upon the person’s individual tolerance, it can be used every night. Some people may not be able to tolerate the stronger retinoids every night but even if they are used two to three times a week it is better than not using them at all. People with sensitive skin should seek professional advice before introducing active ingredients.

Mistake #3 Incorrect Use of Sunscreen in People Suffering from Hyperpigmentation and Melasma

The Skincare Pyramid shows that you should get the basics right and then add in targeted products for specific skin concerns. In people with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or melasma they need to be meticulous about using a good quality, high factor, broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis all year-round. Just one episode of sun exposure on unprotected skin can worsen the pigmentation considerably.

The sunscreen used by those with PIH and melasma should protect against UVB, UVA as well as High Energy Light (HEVL) and Infrared radiation. It is of no use using corrective products to lighten pigmentation if the incorrect sunscreen is used.

Mistake #4 The Use of Medicated, Big-Brand Bar Soaps on the Face

The normal pH of the skin is 5.5 and this slightly acidic pH produces a protective acid mantle. Healthy skin has a skin microbiome i.e. millions of normal bacteria, viruses, yeasts and mites that live normally on the skin. The medicated, big brand soaps often have a pH of around 10 i.e. very alkaline and because they contain anti-bacterial agents, they disrupt the skin’s normal microbiome. These factors will disrupt the normal epidermal barrier function resulting in dry, itchy skin. It is best to use a soap that has a pH close to 5.5, is fragrance-free and without any anti-bacterial agents.

Mistake #5 Expecting Quick-Fixes for People Suffering from Deep Dermal Melasma

In the early stages of melasma, the abnormal brown pigment sits in the epidermis i.e. the top layer of the skin but with time it passes through the basement membrane zone into the dermis. Once the abnormal pigment is in the dermis it is very difficult to remove it.

Most of the treatments for dermal melasma will result in an improvement to the pigmentation but often not complete clearing. Therefore, people with this deep form of melasma need to have realistic expectations about the treatments. Often a multi-pronged approach is needed together with time and patience to improve the condition. They should try and seek treatment sooner than later as the longer they have melasma, the more difficult it is to treat.

Mistake #6 Use Potent Topical Corticosteroid Creams on the Face

Using a potent topical corticosteroid cream on the face is often done inadvertently. This usually occurs when a person is seeking treatment for facial dermatitis and reaches for a potent topical corticosteroid cream that has been lying in the drawer at home and that has been prescribed for dermatitis on the body.

This potent topical cortisone cream will initially help for acne, pigmentation as well as dermatitis but in long term use, it causes thinning of the skin, broken capillaries and may result in perioral dermatitis as well as steroid-induced rosacea.

Interestingly, the skin, as well as the user, often becomes ‘addicted’ to these topical cortisone creams and it may well require a consultation with a Dermatologist to wean them off it and to prescribe the correct treatment.

Posted in LEARN / DERMATOLOGIST FAQS on October 17th, 2019.

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