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Skin Problems


Prevention - Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Acne is the term for pimples or blackheads that commonly form on the face, chest, upper back, or shoulders. A pimple forms when an oil gland in the skin is blocked, and secretions and bacteria build up under the skin. Acne usually starts during the teens and often persists into adulthood.

Many women get a few pimples just before their menstrual periods. Stress and some birth control pills

may make acne worse. Fatty foods, such as chocolate and nuts, are not considered to be a cause of acne.

Many cases of acne will respond to Home Treatment, especially if they are mild. For severe or persistent cases, your doctor can prescribe stronger topical medication, anti- biotics, or other drugs.


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  • Wash your face with a mild soap, such as Dove, or one that contains benzoyl peroxide, such as Oxy Sensitive. Wash as often as necessary to keep your face clean, but do not scrub or overdry.

  • While foods are no longer considered a significant cause of acne, eat a healthy diet and avoid any food that seems to cause pimples.

Skin Problems


Possible Causes

Raised, red, itchy welts or fluid-filled bumps after an insect bite or taking a drug

Hives, See Hives; Insect and Spider Bites and Stings, See Insect and Spider Bites and Stings.

Red, painful, swollen bump under the skin

Boils, See Boils.

Red, flaky, itchy skin

Dry Skin, See Dry Skin; Atopic Dermatitis, See Atopic Dermatitis; Fungal Infections, See Fungal Infections; Rashes, See Rashes.

Crusty, honey-coloured rash between nose and upper lip

Impetigo, See Impetigo.

Rash that develops after you wear new jewelry or clothing, are exposed to poisonous plants, eat a new food, or take a new drug

Rashes, See Rashes; Allergies, See Allergies.

Red, itchy, blistered rash

Possible poison ivy, oak, sumac. See Rashes, See Rashes; Chickenpox, See Chickenpox.

Painful blisters in a band around one side of the body

Shingles, See Shingles.

Change in shape, size, or colour of a mole, or persistently irritated mole; sore that does not heal

Skin Cancer, See Skin Cancer.

Cracked, blistered, itchy, peeling skin between the toes

Fungal Infections (athlete's foot), See Athlete's foot.

Red, itchy, weeping rash on the groin or thighs

Fungal Infections (jock itch), See Jock itch; Impetigo, See Impetigo.

Scaly, itchy, bald spots or sores on scalp

Fungal Infections (ringworm), See Ringworm.

Flaky, silvery patches of skin, especially on knees, elbows, or scalp

Psoriasis, See Psoriasis.

Sandpapery skin rash with sore throat, "raspberry" tongue

Scarlet Fever, See When to Call a Health Professional.

Sores on lip or in mouth

Canker Sores, See Canker Sores; Cold Sores (fever blisters), See Cold Sores.

Home Treatment

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  • Cleanliness is essential. Wash your face, shoulders, chest, and back with a very gentle soap, such as Aveeno, Neutrogena, or Basis. Avoid drying soaps, such as deodorant soaps. Always rinse well.

  • Keep long hair off your face and shoulders, and wash it daily.

  • Don't squeeze pimples and blackheads. This can cause infection and scarring.

  • Benzoyl peroxide gel or cream, a nonprescription medication, is one of the best treatments for acne. Start with the lowest strength, and increase the strength if your skin is able to tolerate it. Apply the medication sparingly once a day, half an hour after washing. It may take several weeks to work and may cause mild redness and dryness. Never use more than 5 percent benzoyl peroxide unless a doctor recommends that you do so.

  • Use only water-based lotions and cosmetics that do not clog skin pores (noncomedogenic), and only if they don't aggravate acne.

  • Controlling stress may help reduce acne flare-ups. See Stress and Distress.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If acne gets worse despite several months of Home Treatment.

  • If you have severe red or purple inflammation, cysts, or nodules under the skin.

  • If scars develop as acne heals.

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