"When people get a reaction, the first thing many think is, 'I have an allergy,'" says Dr. Frank. "A good general rule of thumb: If it burns, it's indicative of an irritation, while itching is usually a sign that you're having an allergic reaction."
A product breakdown doesn't mean a product breakup.
If you're trying something new, it might be a particular ingredient or compound that's causing the issue — it might be too strong for your face, for example. But, what if the product itself has been on your shelf since Miley was still on Hannah Montana? "If the product has expired, it may not hold the ingredients in the same way, which may cause a reaction." In other words, once the chemical bonds of a product break down, the ingredients aren't suspended in the same way — which means something you've used for years can suddenly turn on you. "Check for the expiration date on products," says Dr. Frank. "If it's older than six months, it's probably time to get rid of it." Beauty-product hoarders (guilty) take note.
My concern for a lot of my friends is that whole beauty-is-pain principle, where they think it must be working if it hurts. "If you're having a reaction or discomfort with a product, stop using it immediately," warns Dr. Frank. As a matter of fact, stop using everything, which leads us to our next tip...
"A lot of people will try to use other products to help soothe or correct what's happening, which isn't the best course of action," cautions Dr. Frank. The best course of action from the good doctor? "You want to reduce the inflammation as quickly as possible. A 1% solution of hydrocortisone is the best thing to apply to the affected skin to help reduce the discomfort. You can also take Advil or Benadryl to help reduce any inflammation." What about aloe? "Aloe is fine, as it has some anti-inflammatory properties, but you won't get the same effectiveness as the hydrocortisone cream."
If it's itching and/or you think you've had an allergic reaction — or if a more serious condition has arisen — definitely go see your doctor. "Your dermatologist can diagnose if it’s a true allergy or just an irritation. Allergies can be diagnosed through a series of tests." You should also go see your doctor if conditions don't improve. "If it's not better in three or more days, it's probably time to make the call and see a medical professional," says Dr. Frank.
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