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Common skin issues

3 Weird Skin Issues That Are Totally Common

We’ve all been there—you’re staring at that funny patch of skin and frantically Googling the possible causes. But before you diagnose yourself with a rare ailment, check to see if your symptoms match up to anything on this list of slightly embarrassing—but totally common—skin issues. We asked dermatologists Dr. Harold Lancer and Dr. Debra Jaliman, the author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, to give us all the deets on these dermis mishaps and how to treat them.

Tinea Versicolor

Folks with this ailment—roughly 1 in 1000 people will be affected—typically start to notice light and dark patches of blotchiness form on their skin. (Fun fact: The name versicolor actually means varied color). They’re often mistaken for sunspots, but this uneven skin tone is actually caused by a fungus that normally lives on the surface of your skin. “When people sweat a lot, the fungus can take over,” says Dr. Jaliman, which is why symptoms tend to crop up during the spring and summer.

Treatment: For mild cases of tinea versicolor, you can try applying Selsun Blue to the affected areas, leaving for 10 minutes, and then rinsing. If you want a guaranteed fix, your dermatologist can prescribe an antifungal medicine, either a pill for more serious all-over cases, or a topical foam that you rub on smaller patches of affected areas. (Tip: make sure to put foam on the splotches as well as beyond the borders of it.) The unexpected last step? Getting a dermatologist-approved tan. Your skin won’t even out in color until you venture back out into the sun.

Keratosis Pilaris

Sometimes referred to as “chicken skin,” this issue—which affects 1 person in 500—is characterized by small, sometimes red rough bumps on arms or legs. They form because your skin can’t exfoliate itself properly. Bad news: Keratosis pilaris is genetic, so if your family has it—or has eczema—you’re more likely to have it, too. Good news: It’s totally treatable. But as Dr. Jaliman points out “the frustrating thing about this is that you have to do it constantly. It’s not a one-time treatment and done situation.”

Treatment: The key is experimenting and finding the regimen that works for you. For a non-medicated route, Dr. Jaliman recommends a sonicare brush like Clarisonic’s Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System to help dislodge the cells from clogged pores. Or you can try applying the same lactic, glycolic, or salicylic acid treatments that you use on your face to clear up your arms and legs. “You want to start weak and work your way up with formulas,” says Dr. Jaliman. “Otherwise you’ll irritate the skin.” We like DDF’s Acne Control Treatment, which uses 1.5% salicylic acid to gently exfoliate.


Ideally, your outermost layer of skin has nine different types of ceramides, or fatty lipid cells, that act as a barrier to prevent your dermis from losing moisture. If you have less than that, you may end up with eczema, chronically dry, itchy, and red skin. “It’s very common, ” says Dr. Lancer, which is why roughly 1 in 500 people will see this condition crop up. “It can occur anywhere on the body, can be stress-induced, or caused by a chemical, by illness or a plethora of other reasons.”

Treatment: “Eczema is now much easier to treat today than it has been in the past,” says Dr. Jaliman. “They’ve made body lotions, soaps and other products with ceramides, so you can actually replace the lost lipids in your skin.” Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Cream not only helps prevent the loss of moisture and replenish particularly dry skin, but the formula also keeps skin hydrated for 26 hours. For severe cases, though, be sure to see a dermatologist who can help prescribe oral or topical medications to be taken on a regular basis.

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