I break out in zits but have extremely dry skin; do I have acne?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The best approach to diagnosing acne is to see a dermatologist. The unique specifics of your condition make personal diagnosis critical.
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD

No,it is more like an acne imposter and should not be treated in the same way you would acne (i.e., by drying out pimples and killing bacteria with benzoyl peroxide). What you have is an "acneiform" reaction pattern that mimics acne. There are tiny papules filled with neutrophils, but there are no P. acnes bacteria, nor is there keratin plugging the pore. It is an inflammatory response to a stress on the skin - in your case dehydration. Seasonal changes and environmental variations can cause them too, which is why you may break out in these pimples on vacation. Some people get these breakouts as a reaction to waxing or bleaching facial hair or from an irritating ingredient in a skin care product - even simple soap. Therefore, using harsh acne medications to dry out the pimples is the wrong tactic and will make the problem even worse. If you moisturize your skin to counteract the dryness, the inflammatory papules will go away.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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