Topical Treatments Which Are Tough On The Skin

Having clear, radiant skin is important to nearly everyone, regardless of their race or gender. In fact, topping Refinery29’s list for the most “Googled” beauty topic of 2014 was ‘how to get rid of persistent acne.’ But the answers to questions surrounding ridding yourself of acne or of dry, itchy skin may yield a number of well-meaning, but not exactly accurate, answers. Following, you’ll learn more about commonly recommended topical treatments that may be causing more harm than good.

Olive Oil

Olive oilWhile a simple online search regarding the use of olive oil on the skin will undoubtedly lead to glowing reports about its benefits for the skin, the truth is that olive oil is mildly comedogenic. In other words, olive oil tends to clog the pores of the skin, which can trap dirt, bacteria and other oils and can ultimately lead to blackheads and unsightly breakouts on the skin.

Beyond its comedogenic properties, olive oil often requires an effective “carrier” in order to penetrate the skin. The skin, in its wonderful makeup, has a natural, protective barrier which tends to block the fatty acids known as lipids, which are not water soluble.

For this reason, many cosmetic manufacturers will include olive oil in their modern formulas, yet the olive oil is merely part of a specially crafted formula designed to assist the skin in absorbing the olive oil, along with other compounds. Thus, as a rule, simply utilizing olive oil on the skin to rid the skin of dryness, eczema and psoriasis is often counterproductive.

A 2012 research studyconducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information tested the effects on the skin resulting from the topical application of both olive oil and sunflower oil. Nineteen adults, some with a history of atopic dermatitis and some without, were studied over a period of five weeks.

Researchers concluded “topical treatment with olive oil significantly damages the skin barrier, and therefore has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, atopic dermatitis. The use of olive oil for the treatment of dry skin and infant massage should therefore be discouraged.”

OatsOat Based Treatments

While removing dead skin cells can often help the skin receive more of the benefits from the products you apply and can open up clogged pores, it is critically important that the exfoliating products are not especially rough or scratchy on the skin. One of the most popular ingredients in topical exfoliating cleansers and other skin care products is oats or oatmeal.

While colloidal oatmeal products have been utilized since Ancient Roman times, it’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years due to its effectiveness as a cleanser and in its protection against sun damage (which slows down the signs of aging).

However, while the US Food and Drug Administration declared oatmeal safe for use as a topical treatment in 2003, there have been reported cases of contact allergic dermatitis — which is described as a condition marked by itchy skin and caused by an allergic reaction to oatmeal — in individuals using oatmeal topically on a regular basis. Those ingesting oatmeal can sometimes develop dermatitis herpetiformis, a rare blistering skin condition related to celiac disease.

What To Look For

Although the aforementioned product ingredients can be tough on the skin, there are several products readily available which can assist in skin barrier optimization and the alleviation of dry skin conditions. As a general rule, products which are both hypoallergenic and vegan are safe, gentle and effective as topical skin applications.

Look for skin products that focus on skin barrier optimization, essential skin lipid replacement and that utilize ceramides in their formula for the most effective topical treatment options.

Featured images:
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+Dr.Lee+Dr.Cheryl Lee Eberting is a board certified dermatologist who has dedicated her career to research and treatment of skin ailments. She writes regularly at


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