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How to deal with beauty injuries

Skin Care

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Here’s how to handle little beauty mishaps without an M.D.

A First-Degree Burn From the Curling Iron
The Rx: Treat it as you would any first-degree burn. 

"Wrap ice in a paper towel or a thin cloth and apply it to the burn right away to cool down the temperature of the skin," said Carolyn Jacob, an associate clinical instructor of dermatology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago. 

Next, apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to the burned area. At night, use a gentle cleanser (like Cetaphil) to wash the burned skin, and afterward apply a moisturizing ointment (such as Aquaphor). Keep the area covered with a bandage. Take ibuprofen or aspirin if you're in pain. If the burn starts to blister or develops pus, see a doctor.

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Quick camouflage: Try some creative hairstyling. Side-swept bangs can cover a spot on your forehead, while a low side ponytail works for a burn on your neck.

Itchy, Irritated Skin From a New Face Cream
The Rx: Your skin could be reacting to an ingredient in the product. Wash off the cream immediately with a mild, fragrance-free soap. Apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream. 

You can also use a cool washcloth to soothe inflammation and take an oral antihistamine (like Benadryl) to reduce itching, says Mary P. Lupo, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University, in New Orleans. 

Pare back on other skin-care products until the irritation subsides. If your skin starts to blister or flake, see your doctor; you may need a prescription for oral steroids or a cortisone shot.

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Quick camouflage: Pick up a mineral-powder foundation to use instead of your regular base. This kind of foundation tends to be gentler and is less likely to irritate.

A Scratch on the Cornea From a Mascara Wand
The Rx: This can be a portal for bacteria to enter the eye and cause an infection. Use a few drops of a lubricating eyedrop (such as TheraTears or Optive) to flush out any makeup that may still be in the eye. 

"This helps wash away inflammatory chemicals produced by the body (which can make the eye red and puffy)," Dr. Marguerite McDonald, a cornea specialist with Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island, said. 

Then apply a zipper-sealed bag of ice wrapped in a paper towel to the lid. For pain or blurry vision that doesn't improve in 12 to 24 hours, see an ophthalmologist.

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Quick camouflage: "Use one drop of an eye-whitening product, like Visine," McDonald said. (Don't go overboard. If used regularly, these drops can cause rebound redness.)

A Fungal Infection From a Pedicure
The Rx: Fungal infections produce a diffuse yellowish or white discoloration and can cause nails to separate from the nail beds or become thick and start to crumble. Trim your nails short. Apply an antifungal cream (such as Lamisil or Lotrimin) on the tops, under the edges, and around the cuticles of the infected nails, said Stephen Mandy, a dermatologist in South Miami Beach, Florida. 

If these measures don't help after a month, see your doctor. She may prescribe an oral antifungal drug or a clear medicated nail polish called Penlac, which you apply daily until the infected area grows out completely,dermatology instructor Carolyn Jacob said.

Related: 7 Hot New Nail Colors for Fall

Quick camouflage: Apply colored lacquer for a big night out. But remove it the next day and go right back to your nail treatment.

A Tiny Tear in the Skin From Plucking a Hair
The Rx: Keep steady pressure on a cold washcloth to constrict the blood vessels and stop the bleeding. Then dab on an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin) to prevent infection, advises Roberta Sengelmann, an associate professor of dermatology at the Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis. 

"Put a bandage on it before bed to create a moist, protected environment," she said. 

If the spot is swollen or if pain persists, see a doctor.

Quick camouflage: Remove the ointment with a cotton pad and dab a creamy hypoallergenic concealer on the spot. Pat it in with a fingertip.

Red, Raw Skin From Exfoliating Too Vigorously
The Rx: You removed not only dead skin cells on top but also healthy cells underneath. Apply cool washcloths for a few minutes. Then apply a thick, bland, soothing moisturizer (such as Vanicream) to calm the area. Avoid creams with fragrance or exfoliating ingredients, as they can sting and burn already sensitized skin. Stick with a gentle cleanser for a few days, and avoid the sun. 

"Let the skin heal before you wear makeup or put anything containing chemicals on it," Sengelmann said. 

If the redness and the irritation worsen or if they don't go away in a week, see a dermatologist.

Quick camouflage: Use a small amount of a nonirritating, green-tinted moisturizer, as green lessens red tones. (Try Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion SPF 15.)

A Burn or Irritation From Hot Wax or Hair Removal Cream
The Rx: You should treat a burn from hot wax as you would a curling-iron burn. For chemical irritation from a hair removal cream, quickly remove the lotion with cool water and apply a cold washcloth. 

"Apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone ointment to calm the redness," Jacob said. 

Keep the area moist, says Lupo, by regularly applying an ointment with petrolatum (such as Aquaphor). To decrease discomfort, take an anti-inflammatory drug (such as ibuprofen). If the redness doesn't dissipate after a day or two, or if you develop pustules with a yellow or green discharge, see a doctor.

Quick camouflage: Apply moisturizer to the area, then pat on a concealer or body makeup made for sensitive skin.

A Rip in the Skin From Tearing Off a Hangnail
The Rx: This can lead to paronychia, an inflammation of the skin surrounding the edge of the nail, and possibly to infection. To prevent infection and soothe soreness, soak the finger in a solution of one teaspoon white vinegar and four ounces warm water for three to five minutes, suggests Ronald R. Brancaccio, a clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine, in New York City. 

Do this twice a day for three to seven days. After soaking, apply a topical antibiotic ointment and a bandage to protect the area. If you develop swelling or a puslike discharge after 48 hours, see a dermatologist.

Quick camouflage: Apply a dab of liquid invisible bandage to form a protective barrier over the wound.