Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Daily Skin Care Tips: Ask the Dermatologist

Dermatologist Doris Day, MD, answers your questions about winter and nighttime skin care and offers tips for every type of skin.

Question:
What is a good morning routine for skin care?
Answer:

Wash, apply day moisturizer with SPF, add extra SPF if needed, and apply makeup as desired.

Question:
What is a good evening routine for skin care?
Answer:

Wash, use a toner if you like using toners. I would recommend looking for one that is alcohol-free. Then apply a night cream, ideally containing retinol.

Question:
I love to go skiing in the winter, but my skin always gets chapped and dry. What can I do for it?
Answer:

Apply a richer and creamier moisturizer. Make sure to look for one that also as an SPF of at least 30 since the UV rays are more intense at higher altitudes. Also look for sunscreen that is broad spectrum and has UVA/UVB protection.

Question:
I have very oily skin. Help!
Answer:

Look for products that contain retinol and salicylic acid. Toners that are alcohol-free and that contain salicylic acid are also great to keep around and reapply during the day as needed.

Question:
I am worried about my husband not taking care of his skin, but he doesn’t think men should have to do anything for it. What can men do on a daily basis for their skin?
Answer:

Men need skin care regimens, too. They should cleanse morning and night, ideally with a foaming face wash. Men should also use sunscreen every day all year round, and exfoliate weekly.

Question:
What is the best thing you can do for a baby’s skin?
Answer:

Look for products that are fragrance- and dye-free and designed for baby skin. The words “natural” and “organic” may imply that they are more gentle or safer, but there are no standards for these in skin care and these products end up being more expensive without necessarily being superior.

Question:
What are some tips for dealing with skin that is dry in some places, and oily in others?
Answer:

The T-zone of the face is typically more oily than the rest of the face. Fortunately it is easy to avoid moisturizing these areas when you moisturize the rest of the face. You can also apply toner or products with salicylic acid to the T-zone without applying it to the cheeks or the dry areas of the face. The body tends to be very dry, especially the lower legs, so it’s important to use a cream rather than lotion in this area.

Question:
What are some warning signs that I should look out for, that mean I should see a dermatologist right away?
Answer:

If you have a new or changing birthmark/mole, if a lesion (may look like a bug bite or scratch) has not healed within three weeks, if a rash is painful or spreading, especially if it starts after taking a new medication.

Question:
Is it OK to use soap on my face when I take a shower or should I be using something else?
Answer:

Soaps can be very drying and irritating to the skin of the face. It is best to use facial cleansers, even in the shower.

Question:
What are some things a dermatologist can help me with that I might not realize?
Answer:

Dermatologists specialize in everything [related to] skin, hair, and nails. Your dermatologist will start with a full skin exam/skin cancer screening. They may be able to reassure you about spots that concern you or point out other lesions that you need to watch or have removed for biopsy. We can review your skin care regimen to help you have, maintain, and enhance your skin for now and for the future. Dermatologists also specialize in non- or minimally invasive cosmetic procedures that can help rejuvenate your skin and help you look your very best.

Question:
I care about my skin, but the products are so expensive. Can you give me some tips for saving money?
Answer:

There are many excellent products that are available from the drugstore. The single most important thing you do to help your skin age successfully is to use adequate sun protection. Also if you smoke, quit. As for products, there are excellent choices available at the drugstore. Look for ingredients such as retinol, niacinamide, peptides, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acids.

Question:
Should I being seeing my dermatologist annually?
Answer:

Everyone should have an annual skin exam by a dermatologist, more often if you see any new or changing lesions/moles/birthmarks.

Question:
Can a dermatologist help me with birthmarks?
Answer:

Yes. Birthmarks should be evaluated by your dermatologist.

Question:
How can I best reduce the chances of scarring?
Answer:

Don’t pick at the lesion. If it is a scar on the body, keep it covered/moist.

Question:
Are there foods I can add to my diet to help my skin?
Answer:

Look for foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as almonds and salmon. Olive oil is also excellent for the skin. There are studies that show that Mediterranean diets and diets high in citrus fruits help keep the skin looking younger and also help against skin cancer. I would also recommend avoiding foods that are highly processed and high in refined sugar -- these are pro-inflammatory for the skin and accelerate the aging process. Avoid excess alcohol which is dehydrating to the skin.

Question:
If I’ve had a melanoma before, how can I help prevent myself from getting another?
Answer:

Sun-smart behavior helps -- avoid sun exposure when possible, wear sun protective clothing, use a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher and re-apply it every two hours or more often if you are active, wear sunglasses. See an ophthalmologist every year since melanoma can also occur in the eyes. Do regular self-skin exams, and see your dermatologist as recommended, usually several times per year.

Question:
How do I know when a burn is serious enough to see a dermatologist?
Answer:

If the burn covers over 10% of your body surface area or is blistering, you should see a dermatologist or go to the emergency room immediately.

Question:
How do I know when a rash is serious enough to see a dermatologist?
Answer:

If you have doubts, see your dermatologist.

Question:
What are some inherited (genetic) diseases a dermatologist might treat?
Answer:

1. Psoriasis, 2. Eczema, 3. Skin cancers -- the risk of skin cancer, especially malignant melanoma, increases in all first-degree relatives.

Question:
What are some of the worst things you can do for your skin?
Answer:

Don’t pick at pimples. This only makes them worse, increases the risk of scarring, and makes the pimple more likely to recur in that spot. Don’t apply rubbing alcohol to the skin -- it has no effect on the bacteria/oils that cause acne and only dries out the skin without making the acne better. Don’t think that just because it’s not hot or sunny you don’t need sunscreen. You need to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day all year round even if you’re not at the beach and even if it’s cloudy.

Question:
If you could do only one thing daily for your skin, what would that be?
Answer:

Apply a broad-spectrum SPF of 15 or higher.

Thank you for joining us for WebMD Ask the Dermatologist. Be sure to come back on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. ET when we’ll be focusing on anti-aging products. Sign up if you’d like an email reminder the day before our next event.

WebMD Ask the Specialist Transcript

Reviewed by Doris Day, MD on October 21, 2009

The opinions expressed in this section are of the Specialist and the Specialist alone. They do not reflect the opinions of WebMD and they have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. WebMD is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on WebMD. 

WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.