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Oily, dry, or combination skin is tricky enough to manage all on its own, but add in a few additional skin issues and it can become incredibly frustrating! Even if you’re one of the lucky few to be blessed with “normal,” worry-free skin, skin issues can crop up when you least expect them.
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We’ve taken the guesswork out of interpreting the complex research for these surprisingly common (and stubborn) skin conditions and put together the information in an easy-to-understand problem/solution guide—all to help you get your best skin ever.

The Problem: Eczema

Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is an incredibly frustrating skin disorder characterized by a combination of itching, redness, cracking, roughness, small blisters, inflammation, flaking, and overall discomfort. It often shows up around the ears, fingers, toes, back of the knees, and in the crook of the arm (the spot opposite your elbow). The causes of eczema are unknown, although there is some research demonstrating both a hereditary component and possibly a short-circuited immune system response. It is tricky to treat, but there are ways to keep your eczema in check!

The Solution: Eczema care involves using products (especially moisturizers) that help repair, soothe, and constantly reinforce skin’s protective surface layers. In addition to using products that contain skin-repairing and calming ingredients, it is critical that you avoid products with any irritants, including fragrance (synthetic or natural extracts) and alcohol.

Try: Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Collection for the face and Clinical Ultra-Rich Soothing Body Butter for the body.

Tip: For a deeper discussion on managing eczema, see our article, "Eczema: Stop the Itch."

The Problem: Age Spots/Brown Spots

What some refer to as "age spots" aren’t actually caused by growing older; rather, they show up later in life due to accumulated sun damage. If you don’t believe us, just compare your skin that’s exposed to the sun on a regular basis with skin on the parts of your body that don’t see daylight very often—the difference is shocking! The areas that get less sun exposure look younger and more even-toned, which is why brown spots show up more frequently on the face, chest, hands, and arms, but rarely, if ever, on the abdomen, breasts, or your backside.

The Solution: Research has shown that a high concentration of vitamin C can significantly improve brown spots and combined with a skin-lightener that contains hydroquinone, you can see results that are even more dramatic!

Try: Resist 25% Vitamin C Spot Treatment + Resist Dark Spot Erasers with hydroquinone.

Tip: Keep in mind that to prevent brown spots from coming back, you must apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 25 or greater (and greater is better) every day, rain or shine (the damaging rays of the sun are always present; they pass through clouds and even through windows). Forgoing sunscreen is the fastest way to guarantee brown spots come back!

The Problem: Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris, often referred to as "chicken skin" or KP, is a skin condition where little, raised red bumps show up in patches on your upper arms, backside, or thighs. KP is caused by clogged pores and can occasionally itch, but most often, the most bothersome aspect of these benign bumps is their rough feel and their visible appearance on skin.

The Solution: KP responds very well to beta hydroxy acid (BHA, also known as salicylic acid), which helps unclog pores and functions as an anti-inflammatory to reduce redness and alleviate inflammation. If using BHA alone doesn’t give you the results you want, try a product that combines AHA (alpha hydroxyl acid) and BHA for even more KP-fighting power!

Try: Clinical KP Treatment Cloths with 2% salicylic acid (BHA) and 8% lactic acid (AHA).

Tip: For additional KP treatment tips, see our article, "Get Rid of KP!"

The Problem: Back Acne

Just like acne on the face, back acne typically stems from Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) combined with dead skin cells/debris, which block the free flow of oil out of pores. Although there are many anti-acne products available, they often contain harsh ingredients (like alcohol) and are tricky to apply to the hard-to-reach back area.

The Solution: A three-step approach:

  1. Use a water-soluble cleanser in the shower (no bar soap—those can irritate skin and clog pores). Try our All Over Hair & Body Shampoo to clean skin gently, yet effectively.
  2. Follow up with an acne-fighting salicylic acid treatment to unclog breakouts, such as our Clear Acne Body Spray. Bonus: Its 360-degree sprayer makes it easier to reach all areas of your back.
  3. Finish with a benzoyl peroxide product to kill the acne-causing bacteria. Try the Clear Extra Strength with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide for stubborn breakouts.

Tip: If you find it difficult to reach all areas of your back on your own (and let’s face it, unless you are extremely flexible, that’s hard to do), try our Skincare Applicator for Back & Body, which extends your reach.

The Problem: Scars

Various factors play a role in how a scar forms, including the depth of the wound and how you care for it, genetics, and sun exposure. While the claims made for most scar-healing products on the market exaggerate what they can do, there are some skincare treatments that really work.

The Solution: Because scars are complex, they benefit from a robust blend of antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, and anti-inflammatory agents.

Try: Clinical Scar-Reducing Serum, formulated with high concentrations of antioxidants (including quercetin and Vitamin C) + numerous skin-healing/skin-repairing ingredients to reduce redness and inflammation, dramatically minimize scar texture, and restore normal color.

Tip: Consider treating raised scars with pliable silicone sheets from brands such as ReJuveness and ScarAway. Silicone sheets provide continuous rehydration for the scar tissue, which may soften the tissue, making it more elastic and pliable and thus encouraging the flattening and smoothing process.

Have a skin issue that wasn’t covered here? Find solutions for other tricky skin concerns in our articles on:

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you sort through the myths and half-truths of the cosmetic industry. With their expert advice, you’ll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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