Some Myths and Facts About Acne

Acne is the most common skin condition affecting every individual at some point in time. Anyone can get acne, but it is common in teenagers and young adults. It is not serious, but it can cause scars.

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Acne or pimples occur when hair follicles under the skin get clogged. Acne can be on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders.

The exact cause of acne is not known. Hormone changes, such as those during the teenage years and pregnancy, and skin types play an important role. There are many myths about what causes acne. Such as certain foods cause acne. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne. however, blackheads and pimples are not caused by dirt. Stress doesn’t cause acne, but stress can make it worse.

Myth: Acne is caused by dirt that fills the pores present in the skin of the face and hence causes a breakout of acne.

Fact: The causes of acne are-Secretion of oil and Plugging of the pore. Bacteria (mainly Propionibacteria acnes) living in the pore which produces more oil and also causes inflammation.

Besides these blackheads are open comedones that are due to oxidation of sebum and scrubbing may inflame them. Dirt plays no role in acne.

Myth: The more you wash your face, the less acne you’ll have.

Fact: It is seen in advertisements that a good face wash is the best treatment for acne. But it is not true. It causes more irritation to the skin.

Myth: It is believed that acne goes away on its own and does not need to be treated.

Fact: Acne is a condition that can last for years. With time, it can worsen and scar.

Myth: It is said that tanning clears acne.

Fact: It is seen through research that ultraviolet radiation in sun rays., dries out the skin and induces premature skin aging, and can worsen acne. In long term, it can cause skin cancer.

Myth: It is seen in acne patients that popping acne papules and pustules makes it better.

Fact: Acne is a follicular disease. Popping acne papules breaks the inflammatory products in the surrounding tissues resulting in scarring. It is seen that a distinct type of acne is caused by picking which is known as acne excoriee de jeune fille (picked pimples). But instead of squeezing and scraping, use an overnight spot treatment of benzoyl peroxide.

Myth: Some people believe that if a little acne medication is good, the use of more amounts can give better results.

Fact: Acne medications in the form of tubes that are to be used externally only on the skin should be used in a minimal amount. Too much medication may cause over-drying of skin which causes irritation and more blemishes.

Only a pea-sized amount of a retinoid is needed to cover a face.

Myth: Acne medications work immediately.

Fact-Some people think that acne medications work immediately.

But we need to know that medications may take up to 12 weeks to make a significant difference.

The use of oral isotretinoin or minocycline can take months to significantly clear acne.

Myth: You can clear acne by treating pimples individually.

Fact: In the case of acne spot-treatment doesn’t work. It is important to treat the whole face or affected region every day, even if the patient doesn’t have acne.

Myth: Some people think that a bad diet causes acne and a good diet can prevent acne.

Fact: Diet improvement is not a real cure for acne. It had very little role in acne. Hormones and genetics play important role in acne. It is seen that it takes two to three weeks for a blemish to form. In very few cases, a person is able to identify the real food item which can cause acne. However, it is seen that people who ate more sugary foods, dairy products, and unhealthy fats, useless fish are more likely to have moderate to severe acne. Any diet which increases blood glucose also increases blood cortisol levels and acne. A diet like sweets, bread, and pasta can cause acne. This type of diet can increase insulin levels to increase which causes increased sebum production and hence clogged pores causing more acne.

Myth: It is believed that make-up causes acne.

Fact-Although, it is advertised by the companies that make-up products do not produce acne.

If you want to use makeup, always try to use water-based foundations. Never do heavy exercise while wearing greasy make-up which can clog the pores of the skin and causes more acne.

Myth: It is said that stress causes acne.

Fact: Stress doesn’t cause it but it makes acne worse. As stress worsens hormones, it increases cortisol level(hormone) in the blood, which further increases oil production.

It is also seen that sleep deprivation can increase cortisol, which further increases oil-production and can contribute to acne development.

Myth: It is said that sunscreens cause acne and sun exposure improves acne and fades scars.

Fact: Exposure of skin to the sun can cause skin cancer. It is seen that minimal amounts of sun exposure may initially lead to some acne improvement, but prolonged exposure promotes more rapid production of acne as it clogs pores and leads to more breakouts. An oil-free sunscreen with high SPF and avoidance of exposure can reduce acne.

There are two categories of sunscreen: chemical sunscreens, which absorb UV light (common ingredients: oxybenzone and avobenzone), and physical sunscreens, which reflect UV rays (common ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide). While some chemical sunscreens can irritate the skin, causing inflammation and breakouts, physical sunscreens might actually help. Zinc oxide, a common active ingredient in physical sunscreens, may kill acne-causing bacteria.

Myth-It is said that the use of lasers can remove acne scars.

Fact: It is seen that acne scars are actually hyperpigmentation. It’s best to avoid scars, to begin with since we cannot correct every defect or blemish even with lasers.

Don’t rely on a laser to save you from scarring. Each scar is unique. Some may largely disappear some will not.

Myth: It is said that you can treat by removing oil. So drying out the skin is really helpful in the treatment of acne.

Fact: This is just a myth as it causes irritation and makes the skin look and feel worse. There is no clinical proof that it can cure acne. Over-washing of the face can make skin devoid of natural oils. This causes loss of moisture from the skin and causes more oil production. This in turn clog pores and make acne worse. It is suggested that wash face by using benzoyl peroxide in the morning, followed by a salicylic acid toner with a lightweight moisturizer. Later at night, wash with a gentle cleanser. It is also recommended that avoid that cleanser with exfoliating beads or sodium lauryl sulfate. This can cause irritation. The use of a cream with retinol is also useful.

Myth: Acne is only a cosmetic condition.

Fact: It is not just a cosmetic condition. It is seen that more than 50% of those suffering from acne problems get negative comments from social circles. This causes depression in these patients. This also causes low self-esteem.

Myth: It is said that sweating helps clear acne.

Fact: There is no clinical basis for this myth. It is seen that acne gets worse in the summer season. So acne gets worse by sweating.

Myth-It is said that toothpaste, lemon, and lime juice are effective in treating acne.

Fact: It is seen through research that using harsh substances may lead to unnecessary soreness.

Myth: It is said that acne is a teenager problem.

Fact: It is seen through research that the problem of acne is seen in 50% of women between 20 and 29 years old, 35% of women between 30 and 39 years old, and 26% of women between 40 and 49. So it is said that adult acne is more common in women than men. The cause of this is that hormones level increases-

  1. Teen: When having the first period.
  2. In menopause.

There are two types of acne

  1. Persistent acne: That continues from teenage years and fails to clear.
  2. Late-onset acne: Which begins after the age of 25 years.

Myth: It is said that toothpaste can cure acne.

Fact: Toothpaste contains baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, menthol, essential oils, and triclosan. It can dry pimples. But it can also cause irritation and rashes on the face.

Myth: It is said that acne can spread through contact.

Fact: Acne cannot spread through close contact. But it is suggested not to share towels or pillows with someone else. This is for general hygiene reasons.

Fact: Steroids injections are a very useful method for the treatment of large, one, or two acne cysts which is hard to treat. It is also used in cases inpatient want to join some social events. It is injected directly into the spot where acne is present and this can cause flattening of the cyst within 42-72 hours. But it should always be done under the guidance of a skin specialist. Lots of harm is possible if it is done under non-specialist.

Myth: It is said that sports can be a signal of health problems.

Fact: Latest research has very little evidence that acne due to some specific disease. Acne in certain areas of the face can be due to factors like-

Forehead: It can be due to the use of hair styling products like waxes and oils which block the pores. Acne in the forehead can due to certain hairstyles like fringe and side bangs which can cause irritation of the skin. Sometimes daily practices like wearing caps, hats, and helmets can cause acne.

Cheek and jawline: Acne for this reason can be due to the use of the phone. Smartphones contain large numbers of bacteria on their surface and placing phones against the cheek creates pressure that can cause oil production from oil producing glands. Acne can also be due to heat generated from the phone.

Jawline and around the mouth: Acne in the lower half of the face is due to hormonal changes.

Myth: It is said that chlorine improves acne.

Fact: It is seen that the use of chlorine can dry out pimples but it can irritate skin and cause more acne in long run.

Myth: It is said that hair products have nothing to do with acne.

Fact: It is that oils used in hair products can continuously make contact with the face. So, try to avoid products with petroleum jelly and choose water-based products over oil-based ones.

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