Update your Find a Dermatologist profile, the Academy's directory that's visited by over 1 million people a year.
Discover the benefits offered through your Academy membership.
Start planning your schedule for the Annual Meeting 2020 in Denver.
Discover the wealth of educational opportunities offered through the Academy.
Find practical guidance on coding issues common in dermatology practices.
Learn how to avoid a penalty and earn an incentive when reporting MIPS for 2019.
Review current clinical guidelines, those in development, and guidelines that the AAD has collaborated on.
The Academy has developed 22 quality measures to help advance quality improvement.
What are the derm implications of direct-to-consumer DNA tests? Find out in the October issue of Dermatology World.
Check out DW Insights & Inquiries for the latest updates from Dr. Warren Heymann
Access tools and practical guidance in evaluating and overcoming personal and staff burnout.
Get help to evaluate what practice model fits your needs, as well as guidance on selling a practice.
Learn about the Academy's advocacy priorities and how to join efforts to protect your practice.
Access resources to help you promote the specialty in your community and beyond.
“The language on the label is not always an accurate description of the product inside the bottle or its potential effects on your skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Rajani Katta, MD, FAAD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Manufacturers may use certain language for marketing purposes, and the same terms may mean different things on different products — and that makes it difficult to determine what they mean for our skin.”
For example, patients may choose products labeled “for sensitive skin” or “hypoallergenic” because they believe these products will be gentle on their skin and less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Because these terms are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, there is no guarantee that these products won’t irritate the skin or cause a reaction, Dr. Katta says.
She also warns patients to be wary of the term “all-natural,” since products containing natural ingredients are not necessarily good for the skin. “Remember, poison ivy is ‘all-natural,’” she says. “And even if a natural ingredient is good for your skin, some products may combine that ingredient with additives or preservatives that could be harmful.”
Language related to fragrances also may be misleading. Under current labeling laws, Dr. Katta says, manufacturers are permitted to use the term “fragrance-free” on products that include fragrance chemicals if those chemicals are utilized for another purpose (i.e., moisturizing) rather than changing the product’s scent. Further, the term “unscented” may be used on products that utilize fragrances to mask a strong existing odor instead of creating a new scent.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t any labeling language that guarantees a product is hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin,” Dr. Katta says. “However, there are steps you can take to avoid adverse reactions to new products, and a board-certified dermatologist can help you if you do experience a reaction.”
Dr. Katta suggests that patients with sensitive skin test a small amount of a product on their forearm for a week to see if it causes a reaction, and she advises all individuals to make sure they follow all product directions. She also recommends that patients who are experiencing skin inflammation avoid new products altogether, since their skin’s protective barrier is already compromised, making it susceptible to further irritation.
If a skin care product does cause an adverse reaction, Dr. Katta says, it may not always be easy to identify the culprit. “There’s a common misconception that allergic reactions happen instantaneously,” she says, “but they may take a couple of days to show up, and some people may develop an allergy to a skin care ingredient after using it for months or years. If you’re not sure what’s causing a reaction on your skin, visit a dermatologist, who can help determine the cause.”
“Dermatologists also can help you navigate the confusing world of skin care product labels,” Dr. Katta adds. “If you’re not sure how to select the right products for your skin, visit your dermatologist. We can answer your questions about ingredients, and help you identify the products that will work best for your skin type and address your skin care concerns.”
How to get the most from your skin care products
About the AAD
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 18,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin) or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).