Dermatology Trends Q&A with Elisabeth Neal PA-C

We asked Elisabeth Neal about some trends in dermatology today. Here’s what she said.

Q: Talk about masks, which seem to be in nearly every article about skin care these days.

A: The goal of a mask is to remove impurities from the skin. Some masks may have additional benefits, like anti-aging, soothing, or anti-acne. Essentially, masks draw some of the toxins and impurities from the skin for a smoother result and a more even tone. In theory, they are great. But we advise patients to exercise caution, because some masks can cause allergic contact dermatitis from inactive ingredients. For people with sensitive skin, avoid masks with fragrance or preservatives, which are harmful rather than helpful. I also advise people to find a trusted company with a track record of making high-quality hypo-allergenic products. Always test a mask on a patch on the inside of your forearm before putting it on your face. That way, you’ll know if you have any allergic or adverse reactions.

Q: What do you say to patients about Vitamin C serums?

A: There can be a lot of benefit in the right one. Serums have potent antioxidant properties to help control free-radical damage from environmental exposure such as sun and pollution. But not all serums are created equal. They are highly unstable, and need to be stored correctly in a high-quality dark glass bottle. Serum exposed to sun breaks down and becomes ineffective.

Q: Do pore strips work?

A: It depends on the skin type. Strips help get rid of more superficial blackheads, but can sometimes result in a paradoxical acne break out later. Oily skin types are pretty tolerant of the drying effect. But there exists the potential for irritation in more sensitive skin. Test and see what works for you.

Q: Do you have a winter skin tip?

A: If you have dry winter skin that is itchy, add a generous sprinkle of plain old baking soda to a bath. It can offer quick relief.

Q: Talk about preventive dermatology.

A: I’m a huge believer in preventive dermatology. I say that the age that you start taking care of your skin allows you to keep your skin looking that age for a longer period. Of course, we protect from sun and environmental damage. Utilizing products like Retin-A to regularize and improve skin-cell turnover has cumulative benefits over your lifetime. The sooner you start, the longer we can keep your skin looking younger.

Q: What are your opinions about nighttime oils/creams?

A: Nighttime product routine should include Retin-A type products, which are deactivated by sunlight, so are only to be used before bed. They can be drying, so apply in a serum, with addition of another soothing moisturizer as needed. It’s a bonus if the moisturizer contains additional active ingredients that have antioxidant benefits.

Q: Cosmo recently had a piece that said Botox can help with sweaty palms. What do you recommend for people who sweat a lot?

A: Botox can be effective for excessive sweating in any area of the body. In the palms, however, it can be painful to get the injections; there are oral medications that might be easier. Botox works wonderfully in underarms where injections are much more easily tolerated. The FDA also recently approved a new wipe to stop underarm sweating, an exciting development.

If you have questions about trends in dermatology, make an appointment to discuss your specific concerns.