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How to get rid of acne, Keratosis Pillaris, dandruff and back spots

Here's everything you need to know.
by Julia Curley and Danielle Wolf /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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It's easy to say "love the skin your in," but it can be harder to believe it when pimples, dandruff and sunburns pop up.

Dr. Sandra Lee, a board-certified dermatologist based in Southern California known as Dr. Pimple Popper on social media, stopped by TODAY to talk about common skin problems and the easy changes you can make to cure them.

How to get rid of dandruff

People experiencing the snowflake-like hair dust have one of two problems: dandruff or psoriasis. Typically, dandruff causes this discomfort, but you don't have to live with it.

Dandruff is easy to treat with medicated shampoo, Lee explains. Apply dandruff shampoo to only the scalp, and not throughout the hair itself. Dandruff originates on your scalp, not your hair follicles, so shampoos should medicate the source.

Pro tip: Many people falsely believe that overwashing your hair causes dandruff. Not true! According to Lee, the less often you wash your hair the more likely you are to develop dandruff, so keep using hair shampoo while medicating.

Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $5, Walmart

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Also available in clinical strength for $13 (pack of two) at Amazon.

Lee prescribes a five-minute wait period between applying this shampoo and washing it out. While your scalp absorbs the dandruff solution, you can busy yourself with washing the rest of your hair with regular shampoo.

Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Conditioner, $5, Walmart

Also available at Target.

Follow up the Head & Shoulders shampoo with the matching conditioner.

Head & Shoulders Leave-In Treatment, $10, Target

Also available for $18 (pack of two) at Walmart.

Lee also recommends Head & Shoulders leave-in treatment and says you should feel free to wear it overnight to wake up with a healthier scalp.

How to get rid of blackheads, whiteheads, cystic acne and pustules

Unlike scalp issues, facial imperfections — like pesky pimples and blemishes — have many causes. The first step in treating the issue is to isolate your antagonist. Whether you have whiteheads, blackheads, cysts or pustules, there's a specific acne medication to fix the problem.

Whiteheads and blackheads:

For whiteheads and blackheads, look for an over-the-counter product with salicylic acid or retinol.

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream, $17 (usually $20), Walmart

Also available for $14 at Amazon.

The high concentration of retinol in this night cream can help calm breakouts while keeping skin moisturized.

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Maximum Strength Acne Treatment Pads, $7, Walmart

Also available at Target.

Use these treatment pads after cleansing to treat larger patches of white and blackheads.

Clean & Clear Acne Spot Treatment, $6 (usually $10), Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Only have a few pimples? Treat them with targeted spot treatment packed with salicylic acid.

Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Control 3-in-1 Foaming Wash, $6, Walmart

Also available at Amazon.

Easily treat your whole face with medication using this one-step cleanser.

Cysts and pustules:

For tender cysts, papules and pustules make sure the treatment you choose contains benzoyl peroxide.

PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, $11, Walmart

Also available at Amazon.

With a four percent benzoyl peroxide concentration, this creamy wash can keep moderate breakouts at bay.

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment Gel, $7 (usually $9), Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

This powerful benzoyl peroxide spot treatment is known for quickly getting rid of larger cysts and pustules.

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cream Cleanser, $7, Amazon

Also available for $9 at Ulta.

If the PanOxyl cleanser isn't strong enough, Neutrogena's cleanser contains the maximum amount of benzoyl peroxide available over the counter at 10 percent.

Lee shared that there's usually no need for a prescription to treat these common occurrences. Over-the-counter options work as long as you choose the right one for your needs.

How to get rid of Keratosis Pilaris

Everyone gets goose bumps from time to time, and many people also experience keratosis pilaris. The condition certainly doesn't sound familiar but it's the name for those harmless tiny bumps found on the skin and, most commonly, the upper arms. They naturally occur in the life of your skin cells, Lee explains, and they're nothing to worry about. But if the bumpiness bothers you, treatment can help.

Clarisonic Mia 1 Cleansing System, $129, Ulta

Also available at Sephora.

The original Clarisonic will give you a deep clean without damaging sensitive skin.

CeraVe Renewing Salicylic Acid Cleanser, $10, Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Lee recommends using a gentle salicylic acid cleanser on the Clarisonic brush.

Cortaid Maximum Strength Cream, $7, Amazon

Also available for $4 at Walgreens.

This cream can help stop itching caused by keratosis pilaris.

How to get rid of sunburn

The term sunburn needs no explanation. It's not only painful and red, but dangerous,too. Repeated sunburns increase your risk for certain cancers and all types of wrinkles.

The sun damages all parts of the body equally, but the chest is often at risk for frequent burns. Lee recommends wearing sunscreen every single day, even if it's overcast and chilly. Choose a daily moisturizer infused with a high SPF and stay comfortable, healthy and beautiful.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water-Resistant Sunscreen SPF 30, $6, Walmart

Also available for $11 at Ulta.

As Lee puts it: No tan is a good tan.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Powder, $65, Dermstore

Also available at Amazon.

Powder sunscreens make it easy to reapply throughout the day without ruining your makeup.

How to get rid of white spots on your back

Tinea versicolor is a fancy name for those small skin discolorations that are often found on backs. Once again, this condition is completely natural and nothing to worry about. The skin produces an organic yeast and, sometimes, it builds up and manifests into these small spots. Unfortunately, the sun can aggravate the problem, making the season in which you wear the least amount of clothes the condition's prime time.

Some simple anti-fungal cream should help, Lee recommends, but it's important to remember that this fungus is natural. Don't scrub yourself dry!

Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $8, Walmart

Also available at Amazon.

Anti-dandruff shampoos have anti-fungal properties and are safe to use on your body. Clean your back with this and watch the spots start to disappear.

Lotrimin AF Athlete's Foot Deodorant Spray, $6, Walmart

Also available for $19 (pack of three) at Amazon.

Lee explains that athlete's foot medication is also anti-fungal. The spray makes it easy to apply and has a strong concentration of mediation.

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