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"Help! I have scaly arms and legs but get breakouts on my back."
-- Katie Chiki, 26
Pretty Plan: To get her finicky skin back on track, Katie visited Nancy Silverberg, MD, a dermatologist in Newport Beach, California.
Lesson 1: Stop Being Sensitive
Katie lathered up with body wash made for sensitive skin -- great for her chronically dry arms and legs, but not strong enough to zap her bacne. A gentle bar soap, like Purpose Gentle Cleansing Bar ($2.45, drugstores), removes sebum without drying out the rest of the body, says Dr. Silverberg. After showering, Katie should use a salicylic acid spray, such as Rodan + Fields Unblemish Salicylic Acid Body Spray ($35, rodanandfields.com), on her back to further reduce breakouts.
Lesson 2: Choose Creams, Not Lotions
To ease the itch of dry skin before bed, Katie used a lotion with menthol, which can irritate. Instead, she should try a gentle cream, such as Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Cream ($9.99, drugstores). "Creams contain ingredients like petrolatum, which lock in moisture, stopping the itch," Dr. Silverberg explains. A 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, like Cortaid ($9.99, drugstores), will control her patches of more severe eczema.
Lesson 3: Go OTC
For years, Katie has applied a prescription exfoliating lotion made with lactic acid after her morning shower to dissolve the buildup of dry skin. She liked the results but not the hefty price tag; it can run more than $100 a bottle. Dr. Silverberg suggested AmLactin XL Moisturizing Lotion ($29.99, drugstores). "It has similar active ingredients and will produce just as effective results."
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2009.