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A Fresh Look at Common Skin Problems

Skin problems such as pimples, blackheads, rashes and oily skin aren't just for teens. They're also common in adults. But you don't necessarily need a dermatologist to treat them.

"You may be able to treat all of these conditions at home," says Marsha Lynn Gordon, M.D., coauthor of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beautiful Skin.

Here's her advice on how to solve common skin problems using home remedies.

Cleanse and tone away acne

If you're prone to acne, rest assured it has nothing to with a dirty face. It's caused by the cells that line your pores. "In some people, these cells stick together and clog," says Dr. Gordon. "The oil in your skin aggravates that stickiness."

Strategy: To prevent acne, "cleanse regularly with a mild pH-balanced liquid cleanser to lift up oil, dead skin cells and makeup," Dr. Gordon advises.

If your skin is oily but not sensitive, consider following up with a freshener or clarifying lotion to clean more thoroughly. For dry skin, finish with an oil-free moisturizer.

To prevent acne flare-ups, "your complete skin-care regimen—your makeup, sunscreen and powders—should all be oil-free," says Dr. Gordon.

Get rid of blackheads

Blackheads, which also are caused by sticky, oil-clogged pore cells, are the first step in acne production. To avoid scarring, "don't squeeze them; instead, get rid of them in a non-traumatic way," says Dr. Gordon.

Strategy: For blackheads on the nose, try over-the-counter pads that lift oil and dead skin cells from pores. But to avoid damaging your skin with these products, don't use them if you use facial products that exfoliate. "You could lift off a layer of skin," says Dr. Gordon.

If blackheads persist or are located on other areas on your face, you may need to see your dermatologist.

Avoid irritants

To prevent rashes caused by contact with substances that touch your skin, "isolate the culprit and avoid it," says Dr. Gordon.

Strategy: Change your deodorant if you develop a rash under your arms. Stop using perfume if a rash occurs on your neck. "Consider eliminating anything new you may have added one or two weeks before the rash appeared," says Dr. Gordon.

Experiment with moisturizers

For dry skin, "I generally recommend moisturizers that have minimal fragrance and lots of emollients, such as petrolatum, mineral oil and dimethicone," says Dr. Gordon.

Strategy: Check the ingredient list, then experiment with different brands. If wool makes your skin itch, avoid moisturizers that contain lanolin, a moisturizer ingredient derived from wool.