Unless you are one of the very lucky few, you have (at some point) dealt with acne. Acne is the most common skin disorder in the U.S., affecting roughly 50 million people. Around 85% of all people will experience acne at some point in their lives – which can consist of pimples, blackheads, and even cysts. The most common areas affected are the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. There are several theories about how acne starts, and what treatments are best. Dermatologists note that the most common way acne forms is through overproduction of oil by enlarged glands in the skin, blockage of the hair follicles that release oil, and growth of bacteria in hair follicles. Here are some of the most common myths regarding acne:
Poor hygiene causes acne:
While we do know that the growth of bacteria in hair follicles directly contributes to acne, the poor hygiene theory is not 100% correct. Going several days without washing your face may lead to a breakout, but it’s important to note that washing your face too many times in one day may also lead to a breakout. Washing the skin too frequently or too aggressively can dry the skin, causing it to overcompensate and produce more oil. Dysfunction of the glands that produce oil is a common source of acne, so it’s vital to allow the skin to find its own balance – without drying it out. The best time to wash your skin is in the evenings or after workouts, as leaving make-up or sweat on the skin can contribute to acne.
You should squeeze pimples:
It may be tempting, but squeezing pimples is a big no-no in the dermatology world. Many people believe that squeezing the pimple unclogs the pore, allowing it to heal faster. The truth is that picking at your skin can cause additional inflammation, which signals the body to send white blood cells to this area. The pus that you squeeze out of a pimple is actually dead white blood cells and cellular debris, so in reality, you are recruiting more cells to the pimple by messing with it. Causing additional inflammation to the area will actually make the pimple last longer. Furthermore, squeezing pimples may even have permanent consequences, leading to scarring that may last forever.
Certain foods can cause acne:
The common belief is that greasy foods and chocolate contribute to acne. However, studies show that there are no foods that actually cause acne. Cheeseburgers, french fries and chocolate actually have no impact whatsoever on skin health. This myth most likely arises from an inaccurate causal link between the consumption of greasy foods and greasy skin. The partial truth to this myth is that there are certain diets associated with healthy skin. For example, diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber have been shown to be beneficial for acne. Those who are lactose intolerant may see an increase in breakouts when they consume dairy, as some nutrient intolerances can manifest through the skin.
Tanning beds can clear acne:
This is a somewhat outdated myth, but years ago, some people believed that UVA lights were capable of drying out acne. Tanning beds and exposure to the sun without SPF can actually severely harm the skin. It’s crucial that you either choose a moisturizer or make-up with SPF, or bring it with you whenever you plan on spending time in the sun. While salt water can be good for the skin (playing in the ocean), it’s important to keep your skin hydrated to prevent overproduction of oil, which is your skin’s way of addressing dryness.