9 Truths About Acne You Really Need To Know
Acne is one of the most common skin problems faced by almost everyone. Yet, we know so little about it. Depending on the degree of acne breakout and length of time suffered, acne can really put a dent in a person’s self-confidence. To fully understand what is behind your acne breakout, first thing is to get the facts straight. We debunk 9 most common myths about acne that you need to know.
Myth 1: Acne Only Happens to Teenagers
If you are a teen, chances are high that you will suffer from acne. Almost 8 out of 10 teenagers will have acne as a part of puberty and growing up. The good news is for most people acne clears away by the time they are out of their teenage years. The bad news is for some people acne continues to occur into their 30s and 40s. There are many reasons causing adult acne from stress, medications like corticosteroids and anti-seizure pills, menopause and even switching or stopping birth control pills.
Myth 2: Eating Certain Foods Cause Acne
Many people, including our parents, blame greasy junk food, chocolate and even spicy food for acne breakouts. The truth is for people who are not prone to acne, there is no correlation between food and acne breakouts. For people with a predisposition to suffer acne breakouts, it is still debatable as to whether there is a direct link. However, in recent years, growing evidence is starting to point to a possible link between diet and food – particularly refined carbohydrates, sugar and dairy products. While this new discovery has prompted dermatologists to reexamine the possibility that certain foods can trigger or worsen acne, diet restriction is not practiced as a sole treatment to cure acne. Rather, diet control is encouraged to complement acne treatment. The bottom line is: nobody knows.
Myth 3: Poor Hygiene Leads to Acne
Some people have this idea that acne happens because their face is not clean. Or not cleaned properly. Unless you are a slob, this is probably not true. To blame a dirty face is not being accurate. The truth is acne is a skin disorder triggered by internally and externally factors. For the most part, internal factors plays the biggest role in acne breakouts. Some people go to extremes when it comes to scrubbing their face to rid their skin of dirt, pus and blackheads. But this is of little use and may irritate the skin. While washing your face twice a day is more effective in cleansing your skin than once a day, more than that is excessive and can dry out the skin. Remember, acne is not caused by dirt.
Myth 4: Popping Pimples Accelerate Healing
Total rubbish. This is by far the worse thing you can do. Popping and getting rid of the swelling pus under the surface of the skin will not help skin to heal. In fact, it pushes inflammatory gunk and germs further into the deeper layers of the skin which may cause more redness, soreness and even infection. Not to mention, popping pimples can cause permanently scarring. If you have pimples showing up at the wrong times like before a dance or celebratory event, go to a dermatologist who can give you a single injection to reduce the breakout.
Myth 5: Acne Will Clear on Its Own
Not! Acne is a complex skin disorder. Leaving it alone takes a huge leap of faith that everything will get better in time. This myth is refuted by dermatologists around the world. Doing nothing can make the condition worse. If the breakout is in its early stages, applying a mild topical cream such as over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide or having a facial treatment with salicylic acid is effective. There are many new acne treatments available and dermatologists can prescribe you with the right option.
Myth 6: Sweating Helps Purge Acne
Some people believe that sweating can help detox and flush the body of toxic fluids by purging all acne nastiness. They do this by over-exercising, frequenting sauna rooms and putting steaming hot towels on their face. Although a sauna experience is relaxing, high temperatures and humidity can actually worsen acne condition. Over-exercising increases the body temperature and boosts further sebum production leading to more aggravation. Best is to keep it cool and exercise to a normal regular pace.
Myth 7: Don’t Wear Sunscreen or Makeup During an Outbreak
This is half true. Some sunscreen and makeup products do aggravate acne. You just have to pick the right products. Chemical sunscreen like Helioplex, used across all Neutrogena’s SPF range for instance, works by dissipating UV rays through chemical reactions. This can cause heat bumps on sensitive skin. If you are prone to acne, use sunscreen with zinc oxide inside. Thick makeup can clog pores and exacerbate acne condition as well. Try lighter and looser powder foundations like mineral powders that is less cakey. It would be hard to achieve full coverage when you need it most but a little compromise will go a long way for your skin’s health.
Myth 8: Acne is a Result of Poor Lifestyle Choices
Did you know that if both your parents had problems with acne, chances are you will also experience acne? Heredity plays an important role in the presence of acne conditions. DNA given to to you by your birth parents dictate the size and activity of oil glands, which is then triggered by factors such as hormones and stress. Poor lifestyle choices alone do not cause acne; you will first need preexisting genes to have this condition.
Myth 9: Smoking Makes Acne Worse
You have heard it before: Smoking makes acne worse. But I have seen friends who are non-smokers with very bad acne. So, which is true? Apparently, while smokers do tend to have more acne than non-smokers, the acne condition they suffer is different. Smokers tend to have non-inflammatory acne categorized by skin bumps that are not red, sore or inflamed. Instead, they are either hard-closed or soft-closed bumps. Hard-closed bumps, referred to as whitehead, is made of a hardened mass of dead skin cells; whereas soft-closed bumps are filled with trapped oil and pus. Study published in the British Journal of Dermatology shows that not all, but a high rate of smokers, develop anti-inflammatory acne. While the verdict is still out on whether smoking aggravates acne, the truth is it does harm the skin. Smoking constricts blood vessels and induces an inflammatory reaction in the body precipitating a list of diseases. Smoking also introduces free radicals, impairs collagen production and degrades skin’s proteins. With skin in choking poor health, the rate of repair and recovery from skin-related disorders such as acne is most likely compromised.
Find out how one reader combats her oily and acne-prone skin on My Skin Story: Lily Kew // Oily & Acne-Prone