Acne myths

Myths about acne may do more harm than good. Here is the truth about acne.


The truth

Acne is a troublesome condition for many people - over 630 million worldwide and affecting 1/4 people at some point in their lives. It can cause a lot of physical discomfort and mental upset.


The myths 

Unfortunately, a lot of myths have perpetuated with regards to acne and it is time to dispel these and clarify the reality of acne so you can resolve this pesky problem for good. 

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1. Eating Chocolate will give me acne

There is mixed evidence on this topic. Some studies claim that chocolate and cocoa consumption can cause or exacerbate acne. There is some evidence that lower-glycemic load diets, i.e. diets without refined sugars, can help to reduce acne. The problem is that most studies are underpowered with few participants to make definite claims. However, it is well known that diets high in sugar and fat increase inflammation in the body which may exacerbate acne already present.  These foods may also increase oil/sebum production by the skin. This in turn combined with dead skin cells can clog follicles leading to acne. We recommend following a healthy, balanced diet and staying hydrated. Not only is this good for the skin but good for general health especially cardiovascular health. We recommend that you make a food diary to try to understand what may be triggering your outbreaks.


2. Washing my face will clear it up

Washing your face more will not be enough for your acne to resolve. While it is important to wash your face regularly to remove dead skin and sebum, too much washing can actually be detrimental for your skin. This is because overwashing removes the protective oils from your skin and can trigger your sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum subsequently leading to clogged pores. Scrubbing the skin can also lead to irritation making your skin more vulnerable to bacteria such as P. acnes, a contributing factor to acne. 


3. Acne is a teenage problem

While acne is common amongst teens and tends to ease in adulthood, adults are still vulnerable to acne. 54% of women and 40% of men over 25 years of age can be affected.  There are various culprits which may mean the individual has acne that persists into adulthood or develops in adulthood:

  • Diet as discussed above
  • Hormonal changes including the menopause, pregnancy, use of some types of birth control, PCOS, high testosterone levels
  • Changes in skincare routine or products may cause dryness or irritation
  • Infection e.g, with P acnes bacteria or with the mite Demodex can occur at any age
  • Stress, drugs and environmental factors e.g. the climate and poor work environments may worsen acne

4. The stronger the treatment the better

Treatments can be harsh and have side effects which are why doctors tend to prescribe low dose single topical treatments before turning to combination treatments with higher doses and then even stronger drugs or oral antibiotics. You should not self medicate or use another friend or family member’s treatment. A doctor will need to discuss your specific situation with you so that the medicine you are prescribed is safe and effective for you.  


5. Sunlight will fix my acne

While sunlight is important for getting a good fix of Vitamin D for healthy bones, too much can be dangerous with regards to skin cancers but also harmful with regards to acne. Excess sunlight breaks down collagen, causing aging of the skin and can cause skin irritation and sunburn. This leaves you vulnerable to developing acne breakouts. 


6. Popping my acne will help get rid of it

The American Academy of Dermatology state that this will actually make your acne more noticeable. Not only this, but you will increase your risk of getting permanent acne scars. By squeezing skin lesions you also increase the risk of your skin developing an infection. 



While acne is a condition that causes a lot of upset, it can be treated with the correct medical care. Here we have covered some myths about acne so that you can improve how you take care of your skin and to avoid acne. Get in touch with a healthcare professional who can assess your acne and recommend a treatment unique to you. 



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