Your 12 Most Embarrassing Beauty Questions -- Answered
4. Every time I shave, I get a bumpy rash along my bikini line -- what's causing it?
A too-close shave or waxing can make hairs split and loop around just under the surface of the skin. As these off-kilter hairs grow, they push up against your skin, causing inflammation and redness, says Lawrence Moy, M.D., chief of dermatology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
The fix: Put down your loofah; dermatologists now agree that rubbing the bumps to free trapped hairs will only make the problem worse. Instead, apply an OTC acetylsalicylic acid (a.k.a. aspirin) solution twice a day for two to seven days to gently exfoliate the top layer of your skin. (Try Soft Cell.) Once you shed this layer, the looped hairs will be able to poke through. A cortisone injection, administered by your dermatologist, will decrease inflammation in bigger bumps. If ingrown hairs are a persistent problem, you may want to consider laser treatment, which damages the hair follicles and prevents hair growth. You'll need about three treatments (each around $350) followed by a touch-up every six months to a year.
5. I've heard that spider veins are hereditary. My mom doesn't have them, so why do I?
Genetics isn't the only cause of these unsightly blue veins. Pregnancy and trauma to the leg (like bumping into something) can bring them on, says Esta Kronberg, M.D., a Houston, TX, dermatologist.
The fix: Though vitamin K cream has been touted by some as the next big thing in spider-vein treatment (possibly because of its ability to constrict blood vessels, which supposedly makes veins less visible), there's no way the molecules in the cream can penetrate the skin on your legs and be absorbed into your veins, says Jorizzo. The best option - with 95 percent of patients seeing improvement after one to three treatments (up to $300 per treatment, per leg) -- is still sclerotherapy, tiny injections of saline solution, which irritates veins and causes them to swell shut.
6. Are the bumps on my butt and on the backs of my arms pimples?
No. They're actually called keratosis pilaris - the cause is unknown, but some claim that it's a hereditary condition.
The fix: You can soften and help slough off bumps by rubbing them with a mixture of equal parts petroleum jelly and either water or cold cream. If that doesn't work, prescription Retin-A probably will, but it can irritate the surrounding skin. A better alternative: prescription LactiCare-HC Lotion 2 1/2%, which contains lactic acid to dissolve dead skin cells and hydrocortisone to soothe any acid-induced irritation. Rub lotion onto bumps twice a day until they clear up.
7. What's causing my toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is actually athlete's foot (often picked up from shared showers or borrowed shoes) that has spread into your toenails.
The fix: The most effective treatment is a prescription antifungal pill like Lamisil or Sporanox, but be warned: These treatments are only 70 to 80 percent effective at best, and even when they work it takes nearly a year and a half for the toenail to fully grow out, says Day. Prevent a recurrence by wearing shower slippers every time you rinse off at the gym and by not borrowing shoes.