Do I Need to Seek a Dermatologist's Help for Outbreak of Zits/rash?

I'm a healthy, active 30 yr. old woman. Recently parts of my face have broken out in a dry/flakey/with little zits rash. This has occurred above one eye and around the side of my chin/below my nose area. I swim regularly, and tan once a week, but usually cover my face. Could the pool be causing this? It has never been a problem in the past, but it is a new pool for me. I stopped using an essential oil face lotion, and am trying to stick to a more mild lotion. Stress is not new to me, either...

Doctor Answers 4

Acne Outbreak in a 30 year old

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Acne is typically the result of hormonal changes but can be the result of stress to the face.  First, exam if you've recently changed, added or stopped using any medication especially birth control (this includes IUDs and similar). 

First, I would recommend immediately cleaning your face after swimming and moisturizing.  Second you'll need to start some tretinoin and stop any oil containing make-up or moisturizer.  A superficial to mid-level peel every 3 months such as the Vitality peel would help.  Also, really wash after tanning and keep your face covered.

I too am a heavy swimmer (triathlete) and appreciate the abuse a pool will give.  I moisturize like I'm in the desert with a water based moisturizer.

See a dermatologist for the new "acne"

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You should see a dermatologist to make sure what you have is acne. At your age it may develop, but other things can cause "zit-like" bumps, such as: a bacterial infection of the hair follicles (folliculitis) which can be caused by a Staphylococcal bacteria, the use of an old cream, new "cold" creams, cold sores, a reaction to goggles and masks, etc.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Dermatologist for Acne Breakout

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Hi Reba,

Seeing a dermatologist is a good idea. There are skin washes that are effective at helping as well, Brevoxyl-8 Wash is very good. I hope that your skin clears up rapidly and without any scars. Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

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Not all acne is the same

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It appears that you might have some features of a perioral/periocular dermatitis (it appears that some of the rash is around your eyes as well), however I'd recommend you see a dermatologist fully evaluate the rash.  Perioral/periocular dermatitis appears similar to acne breakouts but does not always respond as quickly to traditional acne treatments, and actually responds better to rosacea treatments as under the microscope it appears similar to rosacea. Sometimes perioral dermatitis requires oral antibiotic treatment to completely clear. Perioral/periocular dermatitis has an itching/burning sensation and traditionally appears around the mouth and occasionally around the eyes as small red bumps. It can be triggered by topical steroid use or asthma inhalers, face creams, lotions, and face washes that you may be sensitized to, harsh toothpastes, the chlorine from the pool could potentially aggravate the condition. Good luck!

Samantha Fisher, MD
Stuart Dermatologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.