Clean Skin is Healthy Skin: Tips for the Face and Scalp

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, so keeping it in top condition should be a priority throughout life. A healthy skincare program begins with a cleansing regimen designed for your specific needs and skin type. Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City has the tips you need to keep your skin healthy and beautiful.

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Cleansers 101

A trip down the skin care aisle of your local grocery store can be an overwhelming trip today. The sheer volume of choices can make it almost impossible to select the best product for your skin. Should you go with a cleanser or quick, convenient cleansing wipes? What ingredients do you look for? 

Dr. Birnbaum helps to break it down, so you can understand how each of these methods works.

Cleansers and makeup remover wipes use surfactants to break down the interface between oil, water, and dirt, removing them and cleaning our skin. When we use cleansers, we tend to rinse off this debris more effectively with water. Using a wipe can often leave residue on your skin. This residue can include cleansing ingredients like surfactants, solubilizers, emulsifiers, and preservatives, leading to irritation or an allergic reaction. 

While Charlotte Birnbaum, MD recommended cleansers over wipes as a general rule, she recognizes that there are times when wipes are the more practical option. She recommends rinsing off your face with water, if possible, after using the wipe. If rinsing is not possible, her recommendation would be to use micellar water instead of a makeup remover wipe. It is a milder formulation than makeup remover wipes, and the residue is less likely to cause a reaction on the skin. 

When selecting a cleanser, remember that the skin on your face is more sensitive than the skin on your body. Choose a gentle formulation that does not include alcohol in the list of ingredients. You can also skip the exfoliating ingredients since daily exfoliation can be irritating and even damage the face’s delicate skin. 

Getting on a Schedule

Once you have selected your cleanser, you need to know how to use it correctly. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your face twice a day or after you sweat. More frequent washing can end up causing more harm than good by irritating the skin. Always wash with lukewarm water, rinse thoroughly, and pat your skin dry with a towel. 

If you choose to exfoliate your skin, don’t use these cleansers more than once or twice a week. Think of exfoliation as a treatment, rather than a daily part of your skincare program. You can also opt for professional exfoliating procedures at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City periodically for safe and effective treatments.

tips for a cleaner scalp in new york, new yorkGuidelines for a Cleaner Scalp

The scalp is often an area that gets neglected in a regular skincare routine. You may wash your hair regularly, but if you do not focus on the skin below, you may be missing an essential step in your hygiene program. Dr. Birnbaum explains that if you have an oily scalp, it may require additional care.

Our oil glands, also known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum on our skin. Sebum improves the barrier of our skin and scalp, protecting them from damage and drying out. Some of us naturally produce more oil than others, which can lead to a greasy scalp.  Oil production is related to our genetics, hormones, humidity, and stress. If you are naturally prone to oily skin, you likely encounter it on both the face and scalp. 

For an oily scalp, Dr. Birnbaum recommends more frequent, regular shampooing up to once a day. It is a common myth that your scalp can overcompensate with oil if you shampoo too often. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it as this can lead to dryness and irritation, so it is crucial to find your sweet spot number of times a week to wash your hair. Those with coarse, curly hair can wash their hair more infrequently.

Here are a few additional tips Dr. Birnbaum recommends for an oily scalp:

  • Clarifying shampoos have more potent surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate to clean an oily scalp.
  • Shampoos with salicylic acids, such as Neutrogena T/Sal, can also be used a few times a week.
  • Dry shampoo can help control the oil and keep hair looking clean and shiny.
  • Place conditioner only at the ends of the hair, never on the scalp.

Dr. Birnbaum advises against using shampoos containing sulfates if your hair is color-treated.

If these at-home treatments do not help after several weeks of use, Dr. Birnbaum suggests an evaluation by a board-certified dermatologist. Prescription treatment options include topical retinoids, spironolactone, oral contraceptive pills, and even Accutane. Neuromodulators like Botox can also decrease oil production. These products can be injected directly into the scalp to keep oil at bay. 

The Next Level: Professional Treatments

While a good home skincare regimen is essential for healthy skin, professional treatments can take you to the next level. At Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, we offer various cosmetic procedures to keep your skin at its absolute best. Some of your options include: 

  • Laser treatments to brighten skin and create more even texture and tone
  • Exfoliating treatments to stimulate cell turnover for fresher, more radiant skin
  • Injectables to smooth away wrinkles and restore youthful volume
  • Light and laser therapies to address sun damage and early signs of aging
  • Skin tightening treatments to reverse jowl formation and firm up sagging skin

Our board-certified dermatologists have the experience and expertise to customize your treatments to your precise needs and goals. Whether you want to turn back signs of aging, treat a specific skin condition, or brighten the complexion for an upcoming event, our team can help you look your best throughout every season. 

We are Committed to Skin Health

Healthy skin is our specialty. For more information about the treatments we offer, contact Spring Street Dermatology in New York City today.

Can Face Masks Cause Yeast Infections?

acne from wearing face masks in new york

Face masks have become a mainstay this year, thanks to COVID-19. You can find masks in an assortment of styles and colors as they have become a necessary fashion accessory to add to your wardrobe. But when the mask comes off, what is waiting underneath?  Some mask wearers are finding that the regular use of facial coverings are beginning to exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea. Others are finding rashes on their faces they have never seen before. It turns out the warm, moist environment under the mask can be the ideal place for a yeast infection to develop.

Yeast Infections? On the Face?

Many women are all too familiar with yeast infections as they can be a common vaginal issue. However, most of us have never heard of a yeast infection affecting visible areas like the face. It is the introduction of regular mask wearing that has brought this issue to light.  Dr. Sapna Palep, founder of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, recently broached the issue of yeast infections from mask wear. She has some basic facts about why they occur and what you can do to lower your risk.

Q: Is it possible to get a yeast infection on your face from wearing a mask?

Yes, absolutely! Dr. Palep warns that a yeast infection can occur anywhere there is warm, moist, creased skin. Candida albicans is the most common culprit that takes advantage of this environment, which can be created by masks to create a superficial fungal infection. Yeast is present on the skin and usually causes no ill effects. However, the right combination of factors can allow it to develop into an infection. It’s not the mask itself that causes the problem. But wearing a mask for extended periods of time, particularly in these hot, sticky days of summer, can encourage the factors that lead to infection. 

Q: Does the summer heat play a role here in determining if a yeast infection will develop?

Dr. Palep explains that the area under the mask can generate heat and moisture, which creates an environment that is hospitable to a yeast infection. Hot weather and humidity make it even easier for yeast to grow as these factors up the heat and moisture that builds underneath the mask. Pay special attention to those skin creases around the nose and mouth that are hidden under your mask. While you may appreciate the ability to cover up those aging symptoms, they are also the places where yeast infections will thrive. If you notice any changes to the skin within those creases, contact your dermatologist. 

Q: Are there certain skin types who are more predisposed to developing an infection like this?

Dr. Palep says that oilier skin types, acne and rosacea-prone skin are more predisposed to a potential infection. On the flip side, drier skin types can also be susceptible to yeast infections. In addition, people that suffer from other types of skin conditions are likely to see flare-ups with mask wearing that could raise their risk for infection. Conditions like eczema, in addition to rosacea and acne that Dr. Palep mentioned, can all become more problematic when under a mask for prolonged periods. 

Q: Are there certain mask materials that are more predisposed to spreading this kind of infection?

Dr. Palep said the best thing you can do is look for a mask that uses a breathable fabric, like cotton.  A lot of people can’t tolerate certain synthetic fabrics on their face.  Cotton is the best fabric for masks, as it’s the most comfortable and breathable on skin so you can wear it all day long. The worst materials to use are merino wool, cashmere, and lightweight ramie (like linen). It is essential to wash your masks regularly, in a gentle detergent that is less likely to irritate the skin. Avoid soaps that have harsh chemicals or strong fragrances, as these are likely to set off a reaction that could make you more prone to bigger issues. 

Q: Does the length of time in the mask make a difference in how likely you are to experience a reaction?

Most definitely. Dr. Palep explains that the longer you wear your mask, the more humidity, moisture, and sweat builds up, creating the perfect environment for yeast. In addition, the constant pressure of a mask causes cracks and fissures in the skin, which also produce an ideal environment for yeast.

Q: How do I know if I have a yeast infection?

Dr. Palep lists some of the warning signs as small raised blisters, pustules, rash, soreness, and chaffing. It’s important to see a board certified dermatologist immediately when you start to see the signs of it as it can worsen very quickly. 

Q: How do I treat a yeast infection if I get one?

The good news is you can usually treat a yeast infection at home, using topical products. Dr. Palep recommends over-the-counter antifungal medications like miconazole, clotrimazole, or lotrimin. She warns that you should never use serums and oils on a yeast infection as they could worsen the condition. 

Contact Spring Street Dermatology in Manhattan, New York Today

A yeast infection could be an unwanted byproduct of mask-wearing, but the good news is that if you catch it early, it can be treated easily with simple over-the-counter topical medications. If you are concerned about any changes to your skin as a result of your mask, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.