A small electrical zap to the brain could help you retrieve a forgotten memory

A study by UCLA psychologists provides strong evidence that a certain region of the brain plays a critical role in memory recall. The research, published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, also shows for the first time that using an electrical current to stimulate that region, the left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex, improves people’s ability to retrieve memories.

“We found dramatically improved memory performance when we increased the excitability of this region,” said Jesse Rissman, a UCLA assistant professor of psychology, and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, the study’s senior author.

The left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex is important for high-level thought, including monitoring and integrating information processed in other areas of the brain, Rissman said. This area is located behind the left side of the forehead, between the eyebrow and the hairline.

“We think this brain area is particularly important in accessing knowledge that you formed in the past and in making decisions about it,” said Rissman, who also is a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute.

The psychologists conducted experiments with three groups of people whose average age was 20. Each group contained 13 women and 11 men.

Participants were shown a series of 80 words on a computer screen. For each word, participants were instructed to either imagine either themselves or another person interacting with the word, depending on whether the words “self” or “other” also appeared on the screen. (For example, the combination of “gold” and “other” might prompt them to imagine a friend with a gold necklace.)

The following day, the participants returned to the laboratory for three tests — one of their memory, one of their reasoning ability and one of their visual perception. Each participant wore a device that sent a weak electrical current through an electrode on the scalp to decrease or increase the excitability of neurons in the left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex. Increasing their excitability makes neurons more likely to fire, which enhances the connections between neurons, Rissman said.

(The technique, called transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, gives most people a warm, mild tingling sensation for the first few minutes, said the study’s lead author, Andrew Westphal, who conducted the study as a UCLA doctoral student and is now a postdoctoral scholar in neurology at UC San Francisco.)

For the first half of the hour-long study, all participants received “sham” stimulation — meaning that the device was turned on just briefly, to give the sensation that something was happening, but then turned off so that no electrical stimulation was applied. This allowed the researchers to measure how well each participant performed the tasks under normal conditions. For the next 30 minutes, one group of participants received an electrical current that increased their neurons’ excitability, the second group received current that suppressed neuron activity and the third group received only the sham stimulation. The researchers analyzed which group had the best recall of the words they saw the previous day.

First, the scientists noted that there were no differences among the three groups during the first half of the study — when no brain stimulation was used — so any differences in the second half of the experiment could be attributed to the stimulation, Westphal said.

Memory scores for the group whose neurons received excitatory stimulation during the second half of the study were 15.4 percentage points higher than their scores when they received the sham stimulation.

Scores for those who received fake stimulation during both sessions increased by only 2.6 percentage points from the first to the second session — a statistically insignificant change that was likely was due to their increased familiarity with the task, according to the paper. And scores for the group whose neuron activity was temporarily suppressed increased by just five percentage points, which the authors also wrote was not statistically significant.

“Our previous neuroimaging studies showed the left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex is highly engaged during memory retrieval,” Rissman said. “Now the fact that people do better on this memory task when we excite this region with electrical stimulation provides causal evidence that it contributes to the act of memory retrieval.

“We didn’t expect the application of weak electrical brain stimulation would magically make their memories perfect, but the fact that their performance increased as much as it did is surprising and it’s an encouraging sign that this method could potentially be used to boost people’s memories.”

The study’s reasoning task asked participants to decide in seven seconds whether certain pairs of words were analogies. Half of the trials featured word pairs that were true analogies, such as “‘moat’ is to ‘castle’ as ‘firewall’ is to ‘computer.'” (In both pairs, the first word protects the second from invasion.) The other half had word pairs that were related but not actually analogous.

Researchers found no significant differences in performance among the three groups.

For the final task, focusing on perception, subjects were asked to select which of four words has the most straight lines in its printed form. (One example: Among the words “symbol,” “museum,” “painter” and “energy,” the word “museum” has the most straight lines.) Again, the researchers found no significant differences among the three groups — which Rissman said was expected.

“We expected to find improvement in memory, and we did,” Rissman said. “We also predicted the reasoning task might improve with the increased excitability, and it did not. We didn’t think this brain region would be important for the perception task.”

Why do people forget names and other words? Sometimes it’s because they don’t pay attention when they first hear or see it, so no memory is even formed. In those cases, the electrical stimulation wouldn’t help. But in cases where a memory does form but is difficult to retrieve, the stimulation could help access it.

“The stimulation is helping people to access memories that they might otherwise have reported as forgotten,” Westphal said.

Although tDCS devices are commercially available, Rissman advises against anyone trying it outside of supervised research.

“The science is still in an early stage,” he said. “If you do this at home, you could stimulate your brain in a way that is unsafe, with too much current or for too long.”

Rissman said other areas of the brain also play important roles in retrieving memories. Their future research will aim to better understand the contributions of each region, as well as the effects of brain stimulation on other kinds of memory tasks.

7 Great Gluten-Free Breads, According to Someone Who Has Tried Them All

For the first few years I lived in New York, my go-to breakfast was a piece of springy Tuscan bread from the bakery below my apartment. I rotated toppings—sometimes pesto and an egg over easy, sometimes avocado and red pepper flakes, sometimes almond butter and little slices of strawberry. I loved the chewy crust of the bread, and the perfect, slightly sourdough-y taste. But thanks to my non-celiac wheat sensitivity, I haven’t had a piece of my beloved Tuscan bread in almost five years.

Gluten—a family of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and a hybrid grain called triticale—is what gives good bread that stretchy, almost bouncy texture and a little bit of chew. You know when you pull the layers of a croissant apart and the bread seems almost elastic? That’s because of gluten, the good stuff. Gluten also helps bread retain moisture, which improves taste and shelf stability.

While my initial transition from a gluten-packed diet to totally gluten-free was a pain (giving up bread, beer, and whole wheat pasta was…emotional), seeking out naturally gluten-free staples like quinoa, rice, beans, legumes, and corn is second-nature to me now. But sometimes, I just want a sandwich.

So, I valiantly taste-tasted tons of gluten-free breads, usually found in the frozen section of the grocery store. Here’s the thing, though: Gluten-free breads can be very crumbly (since they don’t contain the gluten that would hold them together) and the slices are typically super small. In some brands, the nutrition content isn’t wonderful either, with lots of added sugar or a low fiber content. “Breads have a short shelf life without adding preservatives and added sugars, and that’s why you see these ingredients in many of the national brands,” says Rachel Begun M.S., R.D.N., a culinary nutritionist and gluten-free lifestyle expert.

Gluten-free breads can also be prohibitively expensive. That’s because they contain many more ingredients than just flour, yeast, water, and salt. The flours in gluten-free bread might be made of millet, rice, chia, potato, almond, buckwheat, quinoa, corn, or other things more expensive than wheat. Many companies use dedicated gluten-free facilities, or create only small batches of their products, contributing to higher prices.

The good news is that there are tons of gluten-free bread options out there—and many of them really do not suck. Here are seven worth trying.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Bladder Control: Lifestyle Strategies Ease Problems

If you’ve been struggling with the embarrassment and discomfort of a bladder control problem, you may be looking for ways to improve it. Fortunately, there are simple strategies you can try.

Doctors often call these strategies lifestyle modifications or behavior therapies. They’re safe, easy, effective, and inexpensive. You can try these techniques before trying other types of treatment, such as medications or surgery, or in combination with them.

Focus on fluids and food.

How much fluid you drink can influence your bladder habits, and so might certain foods you eat.

Too much fluid

Drinking too much fluid makes you urinate more often. Drinking too much too quickly can overwhelm your bladder, creating a strong sense of urgency.

Even if you need to drink more because you exercise a lot or work outdoors you don’t have to drink all fluids at once. Try drinking smaller amounts throughout the day, such as 16 ounces (473 milliliters) at each meal and 8 ounces (237 milliliters) between meals.

If you get up several times at night to urinate:

  • Drink more of your fluids in the morning and afternoon rather than at night
  • Skip alcohol and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and cola, which increase urine production
  • Remember that fluids come not only from beverages, but also from foods such as soup

Too little fluid

Drinking too little fluid can lead to a buildup of body waste products in your urine. Highly concentrated urine is dark yellow and has a strong smell. It can irritate your bladder, increasing the urge and frequency with which you need to go.

Bladder irritants

Certain foods and beverages might irritate your bladder, including:

  • Coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks, even without caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Certain acidic fruits—oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes—and fruit juices
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomato-based products
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate

Consider avoiding these possible bladder irritants for about a week to see if your symptoms improve. Then gradually—every one to two days—add one back into your diet, noting any changes in urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence.

You might not have to eliminate your favorite foods and drinks entirely. Simply cutting down on the amount might help, too.

Try bladder training.

When you have an overactive bladder, you can get used to urinating frequently or at the slightest urge. Sometimes, you might visit the toilet when you don’t have the urge because you want to avoid an accident. After a while, your bladder begins sending “full” messages to your brain even when it’s not full, and you feel like you have to urinate.

Bladder training, or retraining, involves adjusting your habits. You go to the toilet on a set schedule—even if you have no urge to urinate—gradually increasing the time between urination. This allows your bladder to fill more fully and gives you more control over the urge to urinate.

A bladder-training program usually follows these basic steps:

  • Identify your pattern. For a few days, keep a diary in which you note every time you urinate. Your doctor can use this diary to help you make a schedule for your bladder training.

  • Extend your urination intervals. Using your bladder diary, determine the amount of time between urinating. Then extend that by 15 minutes. If you usually go every hour, try to extend that to an hour and 15 minutes.

    Gradually lengthen the time between trips to the toilet until you reach intervals of two to four hours. Be sure to increase your time limit slowly to give yourself the best chance for success.

  • Stick to your schedule. Once you’ve established a schedule, do your best to stick to it. Urinate immediately after you wake up in the morning. Thereafter, if an urge arises, but it’s not time for you to go, try to wait it out. Distract yourself or use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing.

    If you feel you’re going to have an accident, go to the toilet but then return to your schedule.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t succeed the first few times. Keep practicing, and your ability to maintain control is likely to increase.

Strengthen your pelvic floor.

Your pelvic floor muscles and urinary sphincter help control urination. You can strengthen these muscles by regularly doing pelvic floor exercises, commonly referred to as Kegels.

The pelvic floor muscles open and close the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside your body (urethra). These muscles also support the bladder during everyday activities such as walking, standing, lifting, and sneezing.

  • Practice Kegel exercises. To perform, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles—as if you’re trying to stop your stream of urine—for three seconds. Relax for a count of three and repeat several times. Your doctor might recommend that you do a set of these exercises three or four times a day, lying down, sitting and standing.

    To be sure you’re doing them correctly, ask your doctor or nurse to help you or to refer you to a physical therapist knowledgeable about pelvic floor exercises.

  • Biofeedback. Biofeedback can help train pelvic floor muscles. Sensors placed near the muscles transmit exertion levels to a computer, which displays the levels on the screen. This immediate feedback may help you master Kegel exercises more quickly because you can see whether you’re using the correct muscles. Biofeedback can be done with a professional or with a home device.

  • Vaginal weights. Cone-shaped weights are another option used to help with Kegel exercises. You place a weight in your vagina and contract your pelvic floor muscles to keep it from falling out. Many cones come in sets of varying weights, so you can build up to heavier weights as your pelvic floor muscles strengthen.

Control contributing factors.

Certain medications, excess weight, smoking, and physical inactivity can contribute to bladder control problems. If you address these factors, bladder-specific techniques—such as avoiding bladder irritants and bladder training—might be more successful.

  • Manage your medications. Drugs that might contribute to bladder control problems include high blood pressure drugs, heart medications, diuretics, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, sedatives, and antidepressants. If you develop incontinence or difficulty urinating while taking these drugs, talk to your doctor.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can contribute to bladder control problems, particularly stress incontinence. Excessive body weight puts pressure on your abdomen and bladder, sometimes resulting in leakage. Losing weight might help.
  • Stop smoking. Smokers are more likely to have bladder control problems and to have more-severe symptoms. Heavy smokers also tend to develop a chronic cough, which can place added pressure on the bladder and aggravate urinary incontinence.
  • Be active. Some studies indicate that regular physical activity improves bladder control. Try for at least 30 minutes of low-impact moderate activity—such as walking briskly, biking, or swimming—most days of the week.
  • Minimize constipation. Straining during bowel movements can damage the pelvic floor. Unfortunately, some medications used to treat bladder control problems can worsen constipation. Exercising, drinking enough water, and eating high-fiber foods, such as lentils, beans, and fresh vegetables and fruit, might help improve constipation.
  • Manage chronic cough. Your cough could be making your bladder problem worse. See your doctor about treatment options.

Your role in treatment

Behavior therapies, which take time and practice, can improve bladder control. If you stick with the program, you’ll likely see improvement in your symptoms. And if one of these approaches doesn’t work, talk with your doctor about trying another strategy.

Updated: 2017-07-18

Publication Date: 2007-05-08

Do video games with shooting affect kids’ behavior with real guns?

This randomized clinical trial in a university laboratory examined the effects of video games with weapons on children’s behavior when they found a real gun.

Pairs of children (ages 8 to 12) were assigned to 1 of 3 versions of the popular video game Minecraft (one child played while the other watched): (1) violent with guns used to kill monsters, (2) violent with swords used to kill monsters or (3) nonviolent with no weapons or monsters. After 20 minutes of game-play, the children played with other toys in another room that included a cabinet with two disabled handguns. The study analysis included 220 children (average age 10) who found a gun while playing. Nearly 62 percent of the 76 children who played the video game with gun violence touched a handgun; about 57 percent of the 74 children who played the game with sword violence touched a gun, and about 44 percent of the 70 children who played the nonviolent version touched a gun, although the differences across groups weren’t significant.

Children exposed to violent versions of the video game were more likely to engage in the dangerous behavior of pulling the trigger at themselves or their partner than children exposed to the nonviolent version.

The violent versions with guns and swords were significant even after accounting for other mitigating factors (sex, age, trait aggressiveness, exposure to violent media, attitudes toward guns, presence of firearms in the home, interest in firearms and whether the child had taken a firearm safety course).

The other outcomes (time spent holding a gun and total trigger pulls) weren’t statistically significant.

Self-reported consumption of violent media was also a risk for total trigger pulls and trigger pulls at self or partner. The study is limited by the artificial setting of a university laboratory and Minecraft is not a very violent game with no blood and gore (researchers could not ethically expose children to a more violent, age-inappropriate game).

The authors encourage gun owners to secure their firearms and reduce children’s exposure to violent video games.

Story Source:

Materials provided by JAMA Network Open. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

School children who nap are happier, excel academically, and have fewer behavioral problems

Ask just about any parent whether napping has benefits and you’ll likely hear a resounding “yes,” particularly for the child’s mood, energy levels, and school performance. New research from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine, published in the journal SLEEP backs up that parental insight.

A study of nearly 3,000 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders ages 10-12 revealed a connection between midday napping and greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioral problems; and higher IQ, the latter particularly for the sixth graders. The most robust findings were associated with academic achievement, says Penn neurocriminologist Adrian Raine, a co-author on the paper.

“Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7.6% increase in academic performance in Grade 6,” he says. “How many kids at school would not want their scores to go up by 7.6 points out of 100?”

Sleep deficiency and daytime drowsiness are surprisingly widespread, with drowsiness affecting up to 20% of all children, says lead author on the study Jianghong Liu, a Penn associate professor of nursing and public health. What’s more, the negative cognitive, emotional, and physical effects of poor sleep habits are well-established, and yet most previous research has focused on preschool age and younger.

That’s partially because in places like the United States, napping stops altogether as children get older. In China, however, the practice is embedded into daily life, continuing through elementary and middle school, even into adulthood. So, Liu and Raine, with Penn biostatistician Rui Feng, UC Irvine sleep researcher Sara Mednick and others, turned to the China Jintan Cohort Study, established in 2004 to follow participants from toddlerhood through adolescence.

From each of 2,928 children, the researchers collected data about napping frequency and duration once the children hit Grades 4 through 6, as well as outcome data when they reached Grade 6, including psychological measures like grit and happiness and physical measures such as body mass index and glucose levels. They also asked teachers to provide behavioral and academic information about each student. They then analyzed associations between each outcome and napping, adjusting for sex, grade, school location, parental education, and nightly time in bed.

It was the first comprehensive study of its kind, Mednick says. “Many lab studies across all ages have demonstrated that naps can show the same magnitude of improvement as a full night of sleep on discrete cognitive tasks. Here, we had the chance to ask real-world, adolescent schoolchildren questions across a wide range of behavioral, academic, social, and physiological measures.”

Predictably, she adds, “the more students sleep during the day, the greater the benefit of naps on many of these measures.”

Though the findings are correlational, the researchers say they may offer an alternative to the outcry from pediatricians and public health officials for later school start times. “The midday nap is easily implemented, and it costs nothing,” says Liu, particularly if accompanied by a slightly later end to the day, to avoid cutting into educational time. “Not only will this help the kids, but it also takes away time for screen use, which is related to a lot of mixed outcomes.”

Future directions could look at why, for example, children with better-educated parents nap more than children with less educated parents, or whether, by investigating the influence of culture and personality, nap interventions could be advanced on a global scale. Ideally, a randomized control trial would get at causation questions like whether napping leads to better academic achievement or whether they’re linked in some other way. However, none of this is yet in the works.

For now, the researchers say they hope the results of this current study can inform future interventional work that targets adolescent sleepiness.

Funding for the work came from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grants R01-ES018858, K02-ES-019878, and K01-ES015877) and the National Institute on Aging (grant R01-AG046646).

Women With Triple Negative Breast Cancer Share Their Self-Care Tips

Self-care might be an overused buzzword at times, but the notion of making it a priority to take care of yourself is inarguably valid. Looking after your mental, physical, and emotional health is an essential part of living well. That’s especially true when you’re dealing with an illness like triple negative breast cancer.

Triple negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that “does not have the three most common types of receptors known to fuel breast cancer growth: estrogen, progesterone, and the [HER2 protein],” Veronica Shim, M.D., a surgical oncologist and director of the Breast Care Center at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland California, tells SELF.

That might sound like a good thing. None of these receptors to fuel cancer’s growth can’t be bad, right? But it’s not that simple. If someone has breast cancer with these receptors, that essentially gives doctors more treatment options because they can target the hormones or proteins involved in the cancer’s pathology, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since triple negative breast cancer lacks these receptors, there are fewer targeted treatments that may help with this illness. That doesn’t mean it’s not treatable at all; options such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy along with chemotherapy can help, the CDC explains. But triple negative breast cancer can still be more aggressive and difficult to treat than other breast cancers. (Here’s more information about how triple negative breast cancer differs from other forms of the disease.)

Receiving a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer can make an already dizzying experience even more confusing and scary. In reality, self-care is most likely the last thing on your mind, and that’s completely understandable. But, while speaking with people who have been in this situation, one thing we heard was the importance of tuning in to yourself—especially when things inevitably get overwhelming. Self-care can’t fix everything, but it might make an emotionally and physically trying time a little bit easier. Here, four women with triple negative breast cancer share how they practice self-care.

1. Turning off the phone

Chelsea M., 30, was diagnosed with early stage triple negative breast cancer in July 2018 and had her last round of chemotherapy in December. The way Chelsea’s friends and family have rallied to support her is incredibly helpful and touching, she says. But she’s also found the constant attention and offers to help overwhelming at times.

“During treatment, I turned my phone off for hours throughout the day,” Chelsea tells SELF. “I would write a text to everyone saying, ‘Thank you for reaching out—it means so much and I will catch up with you when I’m feeling up to it.’ That way I didn’t feel pressured to respond to people right away.”

While she was tuning others out, Chelsea pampered herself. She’d get her hair done, go for facials, and, once her doctor gave her the all-clear, indulge in massages. Every time Chelsea turned off her phone and focused on herself for a bit, it reinforced the fact that it was OK to put herself first.

2. Focusing on movement and mantras

You might feel lost in medical minutia and complex, terrifying emotions when you’re diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. For Samantha M., 30, who was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at 28, yoga helped change her mental focus.

“It’s hard to be anywhere but present [when] you are focused on something so moment-to-moment as your breath and the postures,” Samantha tells SELF. That attention to the here and now has helped Samantha reframe worries that her cancer will return as well. “I talk myself down by saying ‘If the outcome is going to be bad, it’s going to happen whether or not I spent my energy fearing and worrying about it. So I might as well enjoy my life,’” she says.

3. Finding self-expression that celebrates all that you are

Kelly T., 34, received a diagnosis of stage 3 triple negative breast cancer in January 2018 and is currently going through chemotherapy. At times in this process, she felt as though cancer stripped her of her womanhood, she says.

“Looking into a mirror and not seeing a single hair on your head is heartbreaking,” Kelly tells SELF. “I’m talking the whole shebang: no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. I could’ve pulled the sheets over my head and wallowed … but that’s not me.”

Instead, Kelly went to a wig shop and treated herself to a handful of amazing options. She watched YouTube tutorials for headwraps. She looked right into the mirror and expertly drew on eyebrows each day. “I felt like me again,” she says. “Looking back at all that I’ve done and accomplished in the last 16 months, I learned that I am beautiful, I am resilient, I am stronger than I ever knew.” And, she says, she learned that she looks damn good in a wig.

4. Engaging in meditation

“I never meditated before breast cancer … I honestly thought it was kind of hocus pocus,” Melissa B., 47, tells SELF. But on the heels of Melissa’s stage 1 triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2013, a friend suggested meditation. “I thought, ‘Why are you telling me this? I have chemo and doctors’ appointments,’” Melissa recalls. But meditation wound up being the very thing that got her through all those appointments, she says: “It became a place for me to go mentally when I couldn’t handle it anymore, and it saved me.”

Melissa would follow YouTube meditations each morning before her treatments and again when the nurses began prepping her skin with rubbing alcohol to administer the chemotherapy. Meditation helped her reduce her anxious feelings, she says. It also helped her sleep, which, for Melissa, calls to mind advice from her grandma Sylvie. “She always said, ‘Naps are life’s greatest luxury,’ and they really are,” Melissa says. Though she’s been in remission for six years, Melissa found so much benefit in meditation that she still keeps up with the practice—and the naps.


What Can Centella Asiatica Really Do for Red, Dry, Sensitive Skin?

Those of us with sensitive skin already know to be wary of trendy ingredients. But there’s one that’s purported to be good specifically for sensitive or inflamed skin: centella asiatica (also referred to as gotu kola), a leafy plant found in parts of China, Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S.

The plant has a long history in traditional medicine, and products containing it have been available internationally for decades. In France, for instance, you might see it sold as Madécassol cream, named for the centella asiatica extract madecassoside.

Korean skin-care products containing centella asiatica are often labeled “cica,” indicating they’re meant to calm irritated skin, such as Neogen Real Cica Pads, $20, Innisfree Bija Cica Balm, $25, and Iope Derma Repair Cica Cream, $32.

Centella asiatica is also the star ingredient in the cult-favorite Cicapair line from Dr. Jart (including my personal go-to, the Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment, $52), as well as La Roche-Posay’s Cicaplast line and Kiehl’s Centella Cica Cream, $43.

So, it’s basically everywhere. But can it really help calm your skin? And is it even safe to regularly use something like this on skin that’s prone to bad reactions? We talked to experts about how much we really know about this fascinating plant—and whether or not it’s really a good idea for those with sensitive skin to use it.

Here’s what the research says.

Many of centella asiatica’s purported effects come down to its potential for calming inflammation, encouraging the production of collagen, acting as an antioxidant, and improving skin hydration. “These properties have all been reported [anecdotally], but when you dig deep into the literature, there’s not a huge amount of data to begin with,” Evan Rieder, M.D., assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman department of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF.

And most of the studies we do have on topical applications of centella asiatica are looking at things in a lab setting or with rat and mouse models. “There’s very little in terms of true human data,” Dr. Rieder says.

What we do have is somewhat “intriguing,” though, Rajani Katta, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Houston, Texas who specializes in sensitivity and allergic reactions, tells SELF.

For instance, in a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry earlier this year, researchers found that when they applied madecassoside to human skin cells that had been stimulated with the bacteria often implicated in acne, the madecassoside reduced the amount of inflammation associated with that type of acne. And research in rats has found that centella asiatica can help speed up the wound healing process, particularly the phase in which collagen is needed to close up the wound. In another study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2017, the researchers found that centella asiatica was helpful at reducing inflammation in a mouse model of eczema (atopic dermatitis).

There is some data in humans, though it’s limited, Dr. Rieder says. In one study, published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigation Dermatology in 2017, researchers tested out a “fluid” containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and centella asiatica extract on 20 women’s forearms over the course of 24 hours. One arm got the fluid while the other forearm got a control cream. The researchers measured the hydration level and the amount of water lost throughout the day. Results showed that the arm that got the centella asiatica fluid showed significantly more hydration and less water loss compared to both the participants’ baseline measurements and the control.

That suggests that the fluid containing centella asiatica was effective at improving skin hydration. But that’s not the only thing that was in the fluid—it also contained hyaluronic acid and glycerin, two ingredients we already know are effective at improving the amount of skin hydration, so it’s not clear how much of those effects the centella asiatica was actually responsible for.

“I think it’s actually encouraging,” Dr. Katta says, “but on the flip side, there just hasn’t been enough research to definitively say that it’s than another sensitive skin moisturizer.”

Considering the potential for centella asiatica to bolster collagen production, it’s not surprising that there has also been some interest in using it to manage signs of aging, such as fine lines and photodamage. In one study, published in 2008 in Experimental Dermatology, researchers had 20 participants with photoaged skin apply a cream containing ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and madecassoside on their face, one arm, and one half of their neck and chest area twice a day. They applied a control cream to the other half of their neck and chest area and the other arm. (They used a separate tube for the face so they didn’t know which cream was in it.)

After a full six months, the researchers saw that participants had significant improvements in wrinkles, firmness, and hydration. But, again, because the cream contained both vitamin C, which we know can have some effects on photoaged skin on its own, in addition to madecassoside, we can’t say for sure if the centella asiatica extract helped very much.

Another small study involving human participants looked at whether or not a cream containing asiaticoside, another centella asiatica extract, could reduce the appearance of fine lines around the eyes. For the study, published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2008, researchers had 27 women apply the asiaticoside cream to one eye and a control cream to the other eye twice a day for 12 weeks. After the treatment period, their results showed that those in asiaticoside group had significantly improved wrinkle depth compared to those in the control group, which suggests that this extract can help reduce wrinkles around the eyes.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the extracts the researchers were testing in all of these studies are not necessarily the same things you’ll find in cica products on the market, which also aren’t necessarily the same thing as the traditional plant. “The commercially available skin-care products use a highly processed extract,” Dr. Katta says, and it’s always hard to compare the results of something like that to those found in the natural herbal product.

And, ultimately, because we don’t have clinical trials for every product on the market, you simply can’t always know what you’re really getting.

Should you try centella asiatica?

As always, whether or not you should try a product depends on your own skin needs and your willingness to accept a little risk. In general, both Dr. Rieder and Dr. Katta say they would recommend people opt for better-studied products aimed to manage dry or sensitive skin, like gentle moisturizers from go-to brands like Cetaphil, CeraVe, and Dove. Additionally, Dr. Katta recommends looking into products containing colloidal oatmeal or aloe to soothe skin, which we know a little more about than centella asiatica.

But if you’re down to experiment, that’s totally fine. Just know that if you do have sensitive skin or a condition like psoriasis, rosacea, or eczema—yes, precisely the people many of these products are aimed at—you’re probably more likely to have a reaction to any skin-care product, even ones that claim to help with sensitive skin. In fact, there are reports of people developing contact dermatitis from using centella asiatica, Dr. Rieder points out. That said, considering the sensitivities in this target population, Dr. Katta says she’s kind of surprised to see so few of these reactions. But, of course, they are still a potential risk.

If you’re interested in trying centella asiatica as a means of calming inflamed or sensitive skin, it may be worth patch testing on your inner arm to see if you have a reaction before trying the product all over your face. Or you can always check in with a dermatologist if you have questions and to get their recommendations for your unique skin concerns.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


7 Ways to Feel Better in Your First Trimester

When I found out I was pregnant last October, I was on the heels of a running kick. A week or so before I got my positive test result, I’d PRed at The Newport Half. Earlier that year, in April, I’d run my first marathon in Boston.

I told myself I’d keep running while pregnant. After all, exercise during pregnancy—assuming your doctor has cleared you for it—is not only healthy but recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that pregnant people log at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week for a variety of reasons, like because it can help maintain or improve cardiorespiratory fitness.

Then week six came, and nausea like I never knew existed hit me hard. Exercise became difficult, especially running with all of its pounding. I had to give up running during my whole first trimester.

Turning to yoga classes, at-home workout apps, and low-impact spin classes helped me sweat without feeling frustrated (on the days I had the energy to move, that is). But I had to accept that I apparently just wasn’t going to feel great during my first trimester, and I had to make adjustments to try to help myself feel better. It’s something I’m realizing most people who are or have been pregnant have dealt with.

Everyone has their own strategies for making it through. Here, parents-to-be and those who already have kids share seven tips they relied on to get through their first three months of pregnancy, and ob/gyns weigh in on why these suggestions might be able to help you, too.

1. Always be prepared with snacks.

“If I got even momentarily hungry, it was a day-ruiner,” Jackie J., 31, tells SELF. Relatable. To combat this, Jackie followed what she calls the ABE rule: Always Be Eating.

It sounds pretty obvious, but it’s true enough to be worth spelling out: “Frequently eating small amounts helps [keep] most folks from getting too full or too hungry,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University, tells SELF. Both of these sensations can feel even more wildly uncomfortable—and nausea-inducing—than usual when you’re pregnant. If constant grazing helps you avoid these feelings, have at it.

2. Never leave home without antacids.

Constant snacking can come with a catch: dreaded heartburn, which is even more likely when you’re expecting. “In pregnancy, the valve between the stomach and the esophagus relaxes, and [stomach acid] refluxes up into the esophagus,” Dr. Minkin says. Enter symptoms like a burning chest and bitter taste flooding your mouth.

Lauren W., 30, tells SELF that she really relied on antacids (Tums, specifically) to combat these issues during pregnancy. These kinds of meds work to neutralize the stomach acid underlying heartburn, the Mayo Clinic explains.

Antacids often rely on calcium to do their job, so you should make sure you’re not having so many that you’re surpassing the medically established tolerable upper intake level for this nutrient. (That’s basically the highest amount you can have without increasing your risk of side effects.) According to the National Institutes of Health, the tolerable upper intake level of calcium for pregnant people 19 and over is 2,500 milligrams per day. Regularly going beyond that may increase your risk of issues like calcium-based kidney stones—not something you want to deal with ever, but especially not when pregnant.

To further fight heartburn, Dr. Minkin recommends elevating your head while you sleep. “Let gravity be your friend and help keep the acid in the stomach,” she says.

3. Give yourself a break whenever you can.

“I closed my office door and put my head down on the cold desk to wait out the nausea every day,” Jill F., 34, tells SELF. “Fun times!”

Pressing pause to breathe through pregnancy issues like nausea can be helpful if you’re able to swing it. If you can go a step beyond that and pepper short naps throughout your day when it’s feasible for you, even better, Erin Dawson-Chalat, M.D., an ob/gyn at Coastal Women’s Healthcare in Scarborough, Maine, tells SELF.

“Sleep disturbance is common in pregnancy,” Dr. Dawson-Chalat says. The reasons why can range from heartburn to leg cramps to more. Plus, fatigue is common in the first trimester thanks to hormonal shifts and major physical changes, like your heart working harder than usual. Point is, you might feel seriously exhausted when you’re expecting, especially to start. Taking little moments of rest for yourself whenever you can might help.

4. Listen to your body.

“Everyone’s advice about morning sickness was to eat crackers and bread and simple carbs. But carbs made it so much worse for me,” Anna P., 32, tells SELF. “I realized pretty quickly that my body needed a lot more protein, and the fattier, the better. Bacon turned out to be a lifesaver!” Having an egg sandwich with bacon every day helped fight morning sickness like nothing else, Anna says.

Experts don’t fully understand why pregnancy cravings happen and what they might mean. But if one specific food helps you find relief from morning sickness, that’s great, Dr. Minkin says. If your cravings are so intense that you’re concerned about having too much of any one food during your pregnancy, that’s definitely something to discuss with your doctor.

5. Try to find a mantra or mindfulness practice that works for you.

Alexandra V., 30, tells SELF that she experienced a lot of anxious feelings in the first trimester, which is when miscarriage is most common. “Establishing a mindfulness practice in the first trimester was a great way for me to cultivate a meaningful connection and nurture the pregnancy and baby,” she says. “I also found it helpful to have a mantra for when I was feeling particularly anxious, like, ‘My baby is secure, and my body knows what to do.’”

For some people, mindfulness can be helpful in dealing with the new stresses of pregnancy, Dr. Dawson-Chalat says. Even if you’re not big on mindfulness or mantras, she recommends identifying some calming activities you can lean on when feeling anxious, like listening to your favorite piece of music or reading some of your favorite poetry. “This is a practice you can continue with your baby when they are outside of the womb,” she says.

Keep in mind, though, that there’s a difference between typical anxious feelings in pregnancy and having an anxiety disorder that’s really impacting your life. If you think you need to see a mental health professional for anxiety but aren’t sure where to find one, here’s SELF’s guide to finding an affordable therapist.

6. Move in whatever ways are helpful and safe for you.

Exercise actually helps me overcome the nausea,” Laura T., 31, tells SELF. “I’ve done everything from long walks to lifting at the gym. Maybe it’s just a distraction, but it helps.”

The distraction factor can definitely be beneficial when all you can focus on is first-trimester suckiness. Plus, as we mentioned above, regular exercise during pregnancy can help promote better physical and mental health as long as it’s medically safe for you to do that level of physical activity. “Just remember to cut yourself some slack on days that you don’t feel like you can do your full workout,” Dr. Dawson-Chalat says. “All movement is good, whether it’s walking, swimming, dancing, elliptical, yoga—it all counts.”

7. Talk to your doctor about any medications that can help.

“The first trimester of both of my pregnancies were complete opposites. With my son, I felt so good. With my daughter, it was, unfortunately, a different story,” Sarah M., 33, tells SELF. “I had debilitating nausea and vomiting from four weeks to 20 weeks.” Upon a recommendation from her doctor, Sarah began taking a combination of vitamin B6 and a sleep aid containing the antihistamine doxylamine succinate. It was the only thing that helped, she says.

Dr. Minkin explains that vitamin B6 and doxylamine succinate can be “a winning combination” for assuaging morning sickness. Experts still aren’t totally sure how the combination works, but there’s enough evidence behind it that vitamin B6 and doxylamine succinate are the active ingredients in prescription morning sickness drugs Diclegis and Bonjesta.

As SELF previously reported, these types of medications (including vitamin B6 and doxylamine succinate-containing sleep aids that you combine yourself) shouldn’t be your first defense in addressing pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. They can be an option if you’re seriously going through it, though. If your morning sickness is really affecting your life—physically or mentally—consider seeing your ob/gyn to discuss your options.


Racism has a toxic effect

A new study indicates that racism is toxic to humans.

A team of USC and UCLA scientists found that racist experiences appear to increase inflammation in African American individuals, raising their risk of chronic illness, according to the study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology on April 18.

“We know discrimination is linked to health outcomes, but no one was sure exactly how it harmed health,” said April Thames, associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “I looked at it as a chronic stressor. Our results showed that racial discrimination appears to trigger an inflammatory response among African Americans at the cellular level.”

The survival of all living things depends on their ability to respond to infections, stresses and injuries. Such threats trigger an immune system response to fend off pathogens and repair damaged tissues. A select group of genes are key to this defense mechanism, and inflammation is a sign that those genes are working to counter the threat or repair the damage.

Inflammation serves to protect an organism from a health threat. But if someone feels under threat for long periods of time, their health may suffer significantly with chronic inflammation.

“If those genes remain active for an extended period of time, that can promote heart attacks, neurodegenerative diseases, and metastatic cancer,” says co-author Steve Cole of the University of California, Los Angeles.

In previous studies, Cole had found that inflammatory responses are heightened among people in socially-marginalized, isolated groups. “We’ve seen this before in chronic loneliness, poverty, PTSD, and other types of adversity,” he says. “But until now, nobody had looked at the effects of discrimination.”

Inflammation’s link to racism

For the study, Thames and her co-authors focused on a group of 71 subjects: two-thirds of them were African Americans; the others were white.

In addition, 38 of the participants were positive for HIV. Their participation gave scientists a chance to study the effects of racism independently from the effects of the disease.

The scientists extracted RNA from the participants’ cells and measured molecules that trigger inflammation, as well as those involved in antiviral responses. The research team found higher levels of the inflammatory molecules in African American participants.

The results also indicate that racism may account for as much as 50 percent of the heightened inflammation among African Americans, including those who were positive for HIV.

Ruling out other stressors

The scientists made sure that all the participants had similar socioeconomic background to account for financial stressors, which eliminated poverty as a potential factor for chronic inflammation among the people in the study.

“Racial discrimination is a different type of chronic stressor than poverty,” Thames says. “People navigate poverty on a day-to-day basis and are aware that it is happening. They might even be able to address financial stressors through job changes, changes in earnings and financial management. But with discrimination, you don’t always realize that it’s happening.”

Individuals’ decisions or lifestyles can reduce the ill effects of some stressors, but racial discrimination is a chronic stressor that people have no control over. “You can’t change your skin color,” she says.

Thames notes that this latest study has an obvious limitation: The sample size was small. But she says the results signal that scientists should repeat the study with a larger sample to fully determine the inflammatory effects of racism on people of color.

Co-authors of the study included Cole, Michael Irwin and Elizabeth Breen from UCLA.

The study was supported by an estimated $1 million in grants from multiple sources, including the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Science, UCLA, the USC/UCLA Center on Biodemography and Population Health and the Claude D. Pepper Older Adults Independent Centers at the National Institute on Aging.

12 Common Face ‘Bumps’ and How to Deal With Them

Bumps on your face come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures—and most are totally harmless. Some, however, are slightly more concerning or may take some detective work to figure out what they really are.

In general, if a bump on your face isn’t bleeding, turning darker, or changing in a concerning way, it probably doesn’t need any type of medical intervention, Joel Schlessinger, M.D., dermatologist and RealSelf Advisor, tells SELF. Other bumps, like acne, can often be managed at home or in consultation with your dermatologist through a skin-care regimen, he says.

But, “if a bump changes in color or shape, bleeds, or increases in size rapidly, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist to have it checked out,” Dr. Schlessinger says. Those are signs that the bump could be associated with more serious health issues, so it’s crucial to get it looked at.

Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common bumps you might find on your face and how to manage them, as well as how to determine whether or not they’re worth bringing up to your doctor.

1. Comedones

These common bumps can appear on the face and other parts of the body and are categorized in two groups: closed comedones (more commonly known as whiteheads) and open comedones (blackheads).

“They are similar in the fact that they are both pores that have been clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells,” Dr. Schlessinger says. The difference is that “with blackheads, the comedone is open so oil and dead skin cells become oxidized, taking on a brown or black hue,” he explains. Whiteheads, on the other hand, are closed, making the cocktail inside appear white, pinkish, or flesh-colored.

Comedones aren’t harmful, but they can be annoying. To manage them (and prevent full-blown breakouts), Dr. Schlessinger recommends that you always wash your face before you go to bed and use a cleanser that contains at least 2 percent salicylic acid to clear clogged pores and help prevent future breakouts. Retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and oral antibiotics may also be useful, and your dermatologist can help put together a skin-care regimen that makes sense for you.

It’s also important to avoid using pore strips to remove blackheads. “The adhesive used to adhere them to the skin can damage your complexion,” he says. “Plus, they strip the skin of natural oils and are usually only successful in removing the tops of blackheads, keeping pores clogged and your problem intact.”

2. Inflamed pimples

You know you’ve got one of these when you notice a painful bump crop up on your face, sometimes with a large white head and a red circle surrounding it. These occur when the bacteria in our pores starts to mix with the excess buildup of dead skin cells and oil that causes acne. Inflamed acne is often red, painful, swollen, and possibly filled with pus.

If you develop inflammatory acne, try not to panic—and, whatever you do, avoid squeezing or trying to pop the spot, as this can lead to even more redness and inflammation. Plus it could increase your risk for developing a scar, Jerome Garden, M.D., dermatologist and director of the Physicians Laser and Dermatology Institute in Chicago, tells SELF.

To try to reduce breakouts like these, he recommends using a gentle cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide and opting for oil-free skin-care products. You can also add in some antiinflammatory treatments: “Once the pimple sets in, a safe way to try to decrease the inflammation quickly is to mix hydrocortisone 1 percent cream and a benzoyl peroxide cream and apply to the pimple twice a day until the inflammation has resolved,” he says.

If you’re getting pimples like these regularly, talk to a dermatologist about prescription options.

3. Milia

If you’ve ever noticed a few tiny whitehead-looking bumps on your face that wouldn’t budge no matter how many times you attempted to pop them or wash them away with an acne-fighting cleanser, they were probably a type of harmless cysts known as milia.

These keratin-filled cysts “usually pop up near the eyes, cheeks, and nose, can occur in any skin type or skin color, and happen to be very common in newborns,” Dr. Schlessinger explains. “Milia often appear without any specific reason, although they are more prevalent in people with skin conditions like rosacea, as well as those that have excessive sun damage, have experienced skin trauma like burns, or for those whose pores are chronically clogged with oil-based makeup and skin care.”

Milia aren’t harmful. But if you want to attempt to get rid of them, Dr. Schlessinger recommends choosing products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)—like glycolic or lactic acid—to exfoliate the skin. Additionally, a dermatologist can remove milia with a small incision.

4. Keratosis pilaris

These tiny, goosebump-like markings typically occur on the thighs and upper arms, Dr. Schlessinger says, but they can also appear on your face. They can also sometimes be hereditary, and although they can show up at any age, they are usually more prevalent in children.
“Keratosis pilaris bumps can be confused with ‘goosebumps’ or even pimples but are actually caused by small plugs of dead skin cells that block the hair follicle,” he explains. “They pose no health risk and don’t require treatment necessarily, but regularly exfoliating your skin can help improve keratosis pilaris bumps.”

Many people find that this condition improves with age, with most people outgrowing it by about 30. In the meantime, Dr. Schlessinger recommends a glycolic acid-containing wash, which exfoliates to provide a noticeable reduction in bumps.

5. Moles

Whether you’ve had them forever or are only noticing some cropping up on your skin as you age, moles are perfectly normal and, most of the time, harmless. They often appear as brown, red, or flesh-colored spots or bumps on the face, as well as other parts of the body, and are quite common. In fact, nearly every single person has at least one mole.

These types of bumps or spots form when melanocytes, the skin cells that create melanin, clump together or grow in clusters rather than being spread out. Experts aren’t totally sure what causes moles to form, but sun exposure is thought to increase the number of moles on your skin, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains.

“Moles can be flat or raised and, if harmless, are typically round-shaped,” Dr. Schlessinger says. The AAD also says it’s normal for them to lighten or darken as you age. A mole that doesn’t pose any risk for cancer doesn’t need to be treated or removed.

However, if a mole starts to change or grow in size, Dr. Schlessinger warns that could be a sign of something more serious, particularly skin cancer. It’s also concerning if a mole has an asymmetrical shape, an irregular border, changing or uneven color, and is over a quarter of an inch in diameter, the Mayo Clinic says.

If you notice any bleeding, irritation, or dark coloration associated with a mole anywhere on your body, have it checked out by a dermatologist as soon as you can to rule out melanoma. And schedule yearly checks with your derm to ensure you’re staying on top of your skin care overall.

6. Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN)

These are not moles, but are a different kind of skin bump: Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN), which are completely benign and harmless skin spots common in darker skin tones that usually runs in families. These spots are technically not moles and cannot become cancer, according to Dr. Garden. “Moles are deeper in the skin, but DPNs are a very superficial buildup of epidermal cells and usually starts to appear in your 20s,” he says. “These brown bumps can be very small and don’t grow much larger than a few millimeters; however, one person can have dozens of spots on the face.”

If you think you might have DPN, it’s still worth having a dermatologist take a look to make sure. There’s not much you can do to prevent DPNs from forming or becoming more noticeable other than wearing sunscreen and practicing sun protection. If you already have them, you can try using an over-the-counter wash containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid, which “are gentle chemical exfoliants might keep these spots a bit thinner or small,” adds Dr. Garden. “Additionally, prescription-strength retinoids can also potentially diminish the appearance of DPNs, although it is unlikely to remove them.”

You can also have these spots gently removed by a board-certified dermatologist with a laser or cautery.

7. Skin tags

These are usually oval-shaped, benign skin growths that connect to the skin on your body or face, via a stalk. They feel soft to the touch and typically appear on the neck, upper chest, eyelids, groin area, and underarms, Dr. Schlessinger says.

Skin tags are totally harmless as long as they don’t grow rapidly, change color, or become infected or painful in any way. “It is very common for me to have patients who think they have what looks like ‘skin tags,’ but in reality is a skin cancer or other, more concerning condition,” Dr. Schlessinger says. So if your skin tag exhibits any concerning changes (like those of moles), make an appointment with your dermatologist to get it checked out.

That said, if your skin tags aren’t bothering you, there’s no reason to remove them. “But for aesthetic purposes, a dermatologist can remove them by cutting them off or cauterizing them with heat,” Dr. Schlessinger says.

8. Allergic reaction

Sometimes bumps on the face or other parts of the body may be a result of an allergic reaction to something you ate or wore, or to a product you applied.

In some cases, marks on your body may be hives (also called urticaria), which is characterized by red, itchy bumps or welts that appear suddenly upon exposure to an allergen. If the hives are mild, Dr. Schlessinger recommends simply treating them at home with a cool bath, over-the-counter allergy medication, or applying a cool compress to the site. If the hives are more severe or you’re also experiencing shortness of breath, swelling, or having trouble breathing, seek medical attention right away.

Another type of common allergic reaction or skin sensitivity that appears on the skin is known as irritant contact dermatitis. It’s visibly different than hives in the sense that it presents more as an overall redness rather than specific welts. It’s also the result of direct skin contact with things like poison ivy, jewelry, or ingredients in skin-care or makeup products.

Once you’ve pinpointed the cause of the reaction, you should definitely stop using it or coming into contact with it (like a detergent or article of clothing), as SELF explained previously. Then, try your best not to scratch the area so that the damaged skin can start to heal. You can take an oral antihistamine and use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone treatment balm, Dr. Schlessinger says.

If those tactics don’t help, talk to your dermatologist who may prescribe a stronger anti-itch medication or a corticosteroid shot to calm the inflammation.

9. Bumps due to eczema

This common skin condition, also called atopic dermatitis, usually shows up before age five, but can technically occur at any age. “Eczema often appears as oozing or crusted bumps, patches or plaques and, if chronic, even as thick scales, and arises from an interaction between both genes and the environment,” Jeremy A. Brauer, M.D., a New York–based dermatologist, tells SELF.

The right treatment depends on several factors, including the age of the patient and their symptoms. Treatment can include oral, topical, or injected medications. “In many cases, a change in environmental factors—avoidance of known triggers, a change in bathing habits —can relieve symptoms,” says Dr. Brauer.

He recommends patients opt for shorter, lukewarm showers using gentle fragrance-free products followed by moisturizing. He also recommends washing clothes with detergent for sensitive skin (like Seventh Generation Free & Clear or Dreft) as well as washing your hands less frequently or making sure to use moisturizer afterwards.

10. Bumps due to rosacea

Another chronic inflammatory condition, rosacea, typically appears on the face, Dr. Garden says. “It tends to cause a background redness of the cheeks, nose, chin, and lower forehead, as well as acne-like bumps in some patients.”

Unfortunately, there’s no total cure for rosacea. However, there are ways to decrease the inflammation that causes the redness and bumps. “People with rosacea tend to have more sensitive skin in those parts of the face affected, so swapping out harsh soaps for gentle cleansers and light moisturizers is helpful,” says Dr. Garden. “Sun protection is also paramount in rosacea as the UV radiation from the sun makes the inflammation worse.”

But everyone has their own set of triggers, which may include things like alcohol, exercise, and specific skin-care or makeup ingredients. So it’s important to manage your exposure to those triggers as much as possible.

There are some other treatment options, such as topical azelaic acid, topical prescriptions, and oral antibiotics, which your dermatologist may steer you towards. Because there are many skin conditions that can mimic rosacea, such as acne, eczema, and Lupus, it’s important to seek the diagnosis of a board-certified dermatologist before self-treating at home.

11. Bumps due to ingrown hairs

Most of us have experienced an ingrown hair on our bodies or faces at some point as a result of hair removal. Normally, when hair regrows, it grows up and above the skin. But if it starts to curl instead, it may get trapped and form a small, raised, red bump that may or may not be filled with pus. Those with thick, curly hair tend to develop ingrown hairs more often than people with fine, thin hair, but no one is completely immune.

The best way to prevent ingrown hair is by not waxing, shaving, or plucking, but that’s not always a practical option, explains Dr. Garden. Other ways to limit ingrown hairs is to always wash the skin with a mild soap and rub a lubricating shaving cream gel on the skin before shaving.

“If your razor is several uses old, replace it with a fresh one, as dull blades don’t make clean, precise cuts and can increase your risk for an ingrown hair,” says Dr. Garden.

Another long-term solution is laser hair removal, which completely eliminates hair at a deeper level, damaging the hair follicle. “Laser hair removal requires several treatments over the course of a few weeks and months, but the results are usually semi-permanent, though it’s less effective on blond or very light-colored hair,” says Dr. Garden. “Because powerful lasers and risks are involved, including skin discoloration, burns and even scarring, it is important to seek out a board-certified dermatologist who has experience using lasers.”

12. Lipoma

A lipoma is a growth of fatty tissue that can occur almost anywhere on the body (including the face), but most commonly on the chest, back, shoulders, neck, and armpits. “Though they tend to grow slowly, often over a period of months or years, you will notice them as a rubbery bulge under the skin that’s typically less than 2 inches across and feels as though it can move,” explains Dr. Garden. “Sometimes larger lipomas do occur, with some reaching almost 8 inches across, although this is rare.”

The good news is that lipomas are nearly always benign. There is, however, a very rare form of cancer known as liposarcoma that occurs within fatty tissue and may look like a deep lipoma, Dr. Garden explains. So if you notice something like a lipoma that’s painful or growing quickly, it should be checked out by a dermatologist, and may need to be biopsied.

Though there’s no known cause of lipomas, some people have genetic conditions that predispose them to forming dozens of lipomas, according to Dr. Garden. In most cases, lipomas do not need to be treated, however, a patient may opt to have the lipoma surgically removed if it’s causing any pain or discomfort.

Many types of face bumps aren’t concerning or can be easily managed at home. But, ultimately, if you have any questions about a bump on your face, you should check in with a dermatologist to make sure you know what it is and, if you so choose, to help you remove it properly and safely.