8 Gross Beauty Issues (We're Going There!)

We’re prone to oversharing, and our lack of boundaries ventures into territories that we’ve been told are gross, unpleasant, and even inappropriate. The upside is that our TMI can actually help friends who are too shy — or polite — to discuss embarrassing beauty problems.

That’s why we put together our original list of Beauty Issues No One Talks About But Should. But, that just opened the floodgates to more questions about unspeakable beauty problems: sties, upper lip facial hair, milia, cysts, cracked lips, scaly elbows, bikini-line bumps, and toenail fungus.

There’s no need to feel ashamed about these issues — they’re more common than you think. We sought medical opinions about these frustrating and embarrassing beauty problems so you can solve them once and for all. Here’s your head to toenail guide on beating your most unshareable issues.

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If the eyes are the windows to the soul, sties are the giant hornets’ nests hanging from the sills. Essentially a type of staph infection, a sty causes swelling of the sebaceous glands located near lash follicles, explains Dr. Susan Resnick, an optometrist in New York City. The swelling associated with the infection causes pain that feels like a boulder scraping your eye and can make blinking unbearable. Sometimes you may experience blurry vision, but that’s usually the worst outcome, Dr. Resnick says.

A sty can develop if you have bacteria on your hands and touch your eye area, or if you don’t wash your face thoroughly enough and leave traces of dirt and oil behind. “Lack of sleep, getting generally run down, and rubbing your eyes also increases susceptibility to developing sties,” Dr. Resnick says.

“The first line of treatment is cleansing your eyelids with a mild soap and water and applying warm compresses several times a day,” says Dr. Resnick. The key, she says, is to continue with compresses for three or four days after the sty clears to ensure you don’t suffer a recurrence. You’ll need to visit a doctor if the sty doesn’t improve within 48 hours. A topical or oral antibiotic may be necessary. And, worst case scenario, you may need the sty lanced, Dr. Resnick says.

To prevent sties in the first place, keep your hands and eye area clean. You also need to keep makeup fresh and store applicators in a clean, dry environment. If you wear contact lenses, wash your hands when putting in and taking out the lenses. “Those who wear heavy makeup or work with children or in health care, where they’ll be exposed to germs, should consider daily disposables like One Day Acuvue Moist,” Dr. Resnick says. A fresh lens every day reduces germ exposure.
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The Lady 'Stache
Whether you’ve developed a light peach fuzz or are fighting a full-on porn 'stache, facial hair on women isn’t a good look. Thanks to our old friend hormones we can develop facial hair at any moment.

“Facial hair in women is usually due to a shift in hormones as you’d see in polycystic ovarian syndrome or menopause,” says Dr. Doris Day, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical School. “I see this all day long.”

Since genetics and hormones are the instigators of facial hair in women, there’s not much you can do in the way of prevention. But the coping methods are numerous. Dr. Day is a fan of laser hair removal. While painful and somewhat expensive (around $200 a session), lasers offer a nearly permanent solution. If your hormones strike again, you could see new facial hair.

Basically any other hair removal method works — waxing, threading, depilatory, and even shaving — as long as you don’t tweeze. “Plucking can cause inflammation of the skin, which will discolor and look dark,” Dr. Day says.

Seeing a doctor is always a good idea, especially if the growth is sudden or thick. Dr. Day says you’ll want to rule out a serious hormonal condition and receive treatment if the facial hair is caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome.
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In the effort to treat your skin to a rich, luxurious skin-care product, you could be making your complexion worse. If you see tiny white bumps, you likely have milia. They’re smaller and harder in texture than whiteheads and can develop anywhere on the face.

When keratin protein blocks a sebaceous gland, it forms a hard ball under the skin, Dr. Day explains. “Using creams that are too heavy and not exfoliating enough lead to the formation of keratin balls under the skin,” she says.

Dr. Day warns against removing milia yourself. “You have to be careful not to fight with them or you can cause a scar,” she says. Instead, see a dermatologist who can use a tool to pierce the skin and remove the bump.

Swap out creamy moisturizers, especially if they contain mineral oil, to avoid causing more milia. And, Dr. Day suggests exfoliating more frequently. “I like the Clarisonic brush and using a retinoid,” she says.
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Cysts are very much like the common cold — you know you have one and they’re generally harmless, but it’s difficult to know why you got it. In generic terms, cysts are raised bumps in the skin. The only way to be sure that your bump is an innocuous cyst is to see a doctor, says Dr. Mary Lupo, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans.

“Cysts develop for many reasons; it depends on the type,” Dr. Lupo says. “Some are pockets of inflammation and some could be a sign of another medical condition. Only a physician can tell you if one is dangerous.” Depending on the type of cyst, your doctor may remove it, inject it with cortisone, or just observe it.

So, book an appointment and leave the bump alone in the meantime. Don’t squeeze, poke, pick, or otherwise fuss with it.
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Deep Lip Cracks
Nothing sets you up for a case of resting b*tchface like deep cracks in the corners of your mouth that make smiling painful. These fissures go way beyond chapped lips terms of unattractiveness and pain.

The condition is called angular chelitis, says Chicago dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob. “It’s due to irritation from yeast that live on the skin but grows in higher concentration near the corners of the mouth due to moisture pooling there,” she says. If you have wrinkles or tend to drool in your sleep, the yeast is more likely to thrive. A mild cortisone cream can usually help heal the area, Dr. Jacob says.

In some cases, the cracking can be a result of severely chapped lips, especially if you tend to lick your lips, says Dr. Jacob. The solution is to stop licking, so give up your flavored glosses and balms. And, apply a lip treatment like it’s your job. Dr. Jacob is a fan of Avene Cold Cream Lip Cream. Options like Vaseline or Aquaphor also work well because they add moisture while forming a barrier to outside irritants.
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Dark, Scaly Elbows
We love the natty look of elbow patches on a tweed blazer, but dark patches of scaly skin on elbows won’t complement any ensemble. “Thick, discolored elbow skin can be genetics — or [it] is just common to dark skin types,” says Dr. Gervaise Gerstner, a dermatologist in New York City.

In some cases, diabetes could cause skin to look thick because the change of hormones stimulates growth factors, which lead to thickening of skin, says Dr. Gerstner. “Athletes, gymnasts, and people who regularly do yoga can also see the condition,” she explains. “Repeated friction from mats can cause a form of dermatitis that increases pigment in the skin.”

Most of us will see the condition due to everyday wear. We repeatedly rub our elbows against hard surfaces and fabric, forming a type of callus. To keep your skin smooth and uniform, apply a lotion containing salicylic, lactic, or glycolic acid, Dr. Gerstner says. The exfoliation will prevent the accumulation of skin. Try AmLactin Ultra Hydrating Body Cream.
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Razor Bumps And Ingrown Hairs
Sometimes you can’t win. In the effort to have smooth skin, you end up with an angry, bumpy, red rash. Razor burn or ingrown hairs often look like acne and can keep you from wearing a bikini.

“When hairs curl or fold back under the skin cause inflammation, you end up with razor bumps,” says Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie. Dead skin cells can also clog a hair follicle, trapping a hair and forcing it to grow under the skin rather than up. The curlier and coarser your hair, the more likely you are to develop razor bumps.

Prep work will help prevent irritation and ingrowns. Using a fresh, sharp razor is key, Dr. Downie says. A dull razor can harbor bacteria that cause infection. An old blade also requires pushing down for a close shave. That tugging and pressure cuts hair at an angle that is more likely to grow into the skin.

Exfoliating before picking up a razor will remove flaky skin cells that could jam your follicles. A quick once-over with a loofah or washcloth should suffice.

Shave in the shower so hair has time to soften, which will reduce the amount of irritation-causing friction. Dr. Downie advises using a soothing shave gel. (She’s a fan of Aveeno Positively Smooth.)

Should you develop a case of the mean reds, apply oil-free moisturizer and sunscreen. Without sun protection, the irritated areas could turn dark due to post-inflammatory discoloration, says Dr. Downie.
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Toenail Fungus
Thick, discolored toenails may be easy to hide, but they can take the fun out of a girl’s shoe collection. “Toenail fungus is unattractive — you can’t miss it,” Dr. Downie says. “You can tell you have it if your toenail looks thick, has a white, green, or black tinge, or if it hurts.”

You pick it up anywhere there’s lots of moisture, namely locker-room showers. So, a pair of dollar-store flip-flops is your best defense. When you go for your next pedicure appointment, bring your own sanitized instruments. Also, keep your toenails short. “If the toenail gets long and pushes off the nail bed, fungus can more easily get beneath it,” Dr. Downie says.

The best cures are prescription anti-fungals and topical treatments. Since toenails take 10 to 18 months to grow out, you’ll have to wait to wear those peep-toes.
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