It’s something everyone fears: Waking up on the day before or day of a big event such as a wedding, reunion, business interview, or first date with an unsightly skincare emergency. Have you ever cancelled a first date because a cold sore erupted? What about cystic acne on your chin that appears the day before an important meeting? While neither of these is "life threatening" conditions, they sometimes feel that way.
Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a Manhattan/New Jersey board certified dermatologist, says there are solutions and she shares her expertise on what can be done to minimize various conditions that might put a blemish on your special day. Remember to consult with your doctor about the pros and cons of each of these solutions to help make the best personal decision for you.
Cold Sores and Allergic Reations
Problem: Cold Sore
Dr. Baxt offers cortisone injections to patients who want to look better faster. "Very diluted cortisone into the cold sore, this can bring the inflammation down quite rapidly," she says. If you are afraid of needles, call your doctor and ask him/her to call in a prescription for Valtrex, Famvir, or Acylovir. Dr. Baxt says, "You can pick up Abreva, an over-the-counter medication. If you can’t make it to the pharmacy, you can try some old-fashioned remedies: Visine will help take the red out. You can also use a cold compress and Tylenol or ibuprofen."
Problem: Allergic Reaction
The first thing you need to do is stop eating or using whatever is causing the allergic reaction. If the reaction happens a few days before an important event or meeting, Dr. Baxt recommends using hydrocortisone cream twice a day and taking Allegra, Claritin or Zyrtec, which are longer acting and less sedating than Benadryl. You can also use a whole-milk compress for 10 minutes twice a day.
For allergic reactions that occur the day of your special event, use the hydrocortisone cream and then a hypoallergenic cover-up. The opposite of red is green, so apply green tinted concealer on the red area. The combination will create a flesh-toned hue. A good quality tinted moisturizer naturally has green/yellow undertones and also provides moisture to dry skin. But allergic reactions should be taken seriously. "If this type of reaction is something you have never experienced before, go immediately to your dermatologist," says Dr. Baxt.
Cystic Acne and Puffy Eyes
Problem: Cystic Acne Breakout
Some people attempt to deal with cystic acne themselves by using a lancet or small knife to extract the clogged pore, but the results can cause permanent damage. "Cutting open a cyst is extremely risky. You not only run the risk of getting an infection, but you also run the risk of scarring, as in a permanent skin indentation or protrusion," says Dr. Baxt.
And what if you cut open a cyst but can’t squeeze out the root clog? You don’t know where the root is or how deep it resides inside your skin. You can’t even be 100 percent confident that you will be able to completely remove the hardened plug of the cyst. If any remnants of the clog remain, the cyst is likely to get re-inflamed and come back even worse.
A steroid shot is an option often used by models and actors. One option often used by actors. Dr. Baxt clarifies, "when we discuss treating acne with cortisone or ’steroid’ shots, we are referring to the process of gently placing a very dilute quantity of a ’glucocorticoid’ steroid into the cyst. Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid molecules that are naturally produced by our bodies and have numerous functions including the regulation of human metabolism, immunity, and inflammation. They have very potent anti-inflammatory effects so they are often used to treat inflammatory diseases in medicine. Within one or two days of injection into a cyst, the steroid will shrink the inflammation producing relief of pain and almost immediate cosmetic improvement."
Problem: Puffy Eyes
"A cool compress or cooled cucumber slices applied for 5 to 10 minutes can constrict blood and lymph vessels," says Dr. Baxt. "You can also use cool tea bags, which contain tannins that will help reduce swelling. And since puffy eyes can be caused by a high salt diet or alcohol, try to cut out both before an important occasion."