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What we think we know about acne is steadily being replaced by what scientists are learning. Meanwhile, many myths continue to circulate and endure. Clearing up some of the misunderstandings about acne is what this article is about.
Myth #1: Acne only affects appearance. Acne can also cause deep psychological distress. Severe acne can lead to low self-image and feeling depressed. There is a strong link between severe acne and social withdrawal.
Myth #2: Acne is caused by poor hygiene. While skin infections are associated with acne, lack of cleanliness is not the reason for acne outbreaks. The combination of oil and dead cells which produce acne is located beneath the skin’s surface where it is impossible to clean it away. Gentle cleansing with soap and water once or twice daily will keep your skin as healthy as possible. Scrubing too hard may worsen acne.
Myth #3: Acne is caused by specific foods. Chocolate has long had a reputation as a pimple producer. Studies have shown no scientific evidence that this is true. The same holds true for potato chips and sugar. There are some foods that do seem to aggravate (not cause) the condition: milk and foods high in iodine, such as seafood.
Myth #4: Acne has to run its course. There are many acne treatments available both over-the-counter and stronger medicines from a dermatologist.
Myth #5: The more acne medicine the better. Some people believe that if their acne gets worse they should just use more medicine. That’s a bad idea because medicines can be dangerous when taken in large quantities. Excess use of acne ointments may just irritate the skin further.
Myth #6: Sunbathing is good for acne. Exposure to the sun dries out excess oils, so it does improve acne short-term. However, long-term the skin adapts and the acne is unfazed. Worse, there is scientific evidence that sun exposure damages the skin and increases the chance of skin cancer.
Myth #7: Makeup causes acne. Some makeup products can clog the pores, which is bad for the health of your skin. Cosmetics that are labeled “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic” are safe to use. Some brands are made with ingredients that actually treat acne.
Myth #8: Acne is only a teenage condition. While most teens have acne, so do many adults. Acne generally clears up by the early 20s. But some people experience acne for the first time as late as their 40s. And for the most unfortunate of all, some people endure acne flare-ups their entire lives.
Myth #9: Acne is related to sex. We’ve probably all heard that either celibacy or too much sex causes pimples. There is no evidence for this. There is a link between sexual activity and hormone production, but the relationship between sex and the production of sebum (the oily substance which combines with dead skin cells to cause acne) is not known. Stress and anger also affect hormone levels.
Myth #10: Popping pimples is the best way to get rid of them
The fact is popping pimples may worsen acne by spreading the bacteria that is causing it. Popping can also lead to eventual scarring, which in severe cases, can be permanent.