Dermatologists treat several hair, skin, and nail diseases and conditions. In this Q&A, Timothy Patton, DO, UPMC Department of Dermatology, answers a few frequently asked questions related to general skin care.

Q: Is there a natural way to prevent wrinkles?

A: Using UVA protection can be an effective method of wrinkle prevention. You can be exposed to UVA through glass, on cloudy days, and even when the sun is not directly overhead. Daily application of a sunscreen with effective UVA-blocking ability may help prevent wrinkles from forming.

Q: My 11-year-old son has dark circles. Are there any treatments you recommend for kids?

A: In children and adolescents, dark circles under the eyes may be secondary to environmental allergies or a history of sensitive skin (so called “allergic shiners”). The most effective management should be a personalized approach to treating the exact underlying cause, as determined by your son’s doctor.

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Q: I am 30 years old, and my face continues to break out like it did in high school. Do you have any tips for prevention?

A: There are several things that could be causing your breakouts. While common acne can occur in your 30s, other acneiform eruptions can cause breakouts as well. These other eruptions can best be diagnosed by a clinical exam. I suggest being evaluated by your doctor for more specific recommendations.

Q: How do can I get rid of black circles under the eyes?

A: Ultimately, it would depend on the underlying cause of the dark circles. In some cases, dark circles under the eyes are the result of nothing more than the skin anatomy in that area. In the last few years, I’ve read studies in which patients were treated with autologous fat transfer, where the patient’s own fat cells are injected just under the skin below the eyes. The results that are published in these studies demonstrate a noticeable improvement, but I have not personally seen any patients in whom this has been performed. I would suggest talking to your doctor to find out if this option may be right for you.

Q: With bathing suit season approaching, how can I get rid of cellulite?

A: There are several therapies that are reported as effective for the treatment of cellulite, but I cannot testify personally about their effectiveness. These therapies include topical medications, injectable products, physical modalities such as massage therapy, systemic therapies, and even a laser that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of cellulite in 2012. Weight loss and exercise are also encouraged.

Q: Will my skin and hair be healthier if I drink eight glasses of water a day?

A: Off the top of my head, I am not aware of any clinical trials that proved this to be true, but hydration can never hurt.

Q: Why does poison ivy make my skin break out? Are there any long-term side effects?

A: Poison ivy causes dermatitis in a lot of people because they are allergic to a protein present in the sap of the poison ivy plant. Similar proteins are also found in poison sumac and poison oak. I am not aware of any serious long-term side effects, but seeking treatment from a physician is advised.

Q: How do you treat tiny red spots on arms, face, and back?

A: It depends on what the red spots are. One of the more common causes of red spots that we see is dilated blood vessels either in the form of telangiectasias or angiomas. These are most effectively treated with lasers. There are several other causes of red spots, but they would need to be evaluated by your doctor or dermatologist in order to determine the best therapy.

Q: What causes pimples inside the nose?

A: Two possibilities are bacterial folliculitis or cold sores in the nose. Bacterial folliculitis can be treated with topical antibiotics. Treatment of cold sores can vary depending on the frequency of the outbreaks.

If you have a skin condition and are unsure of how it should be treated, see your doctor or dermatologist. Even common skin conditions can vary from person to person, and an individualized treatment plan can ensure that you receive the best care possible. For more information about common dermatologic conditions, please see the conditions we treat.

About Dermatology

The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.