Top 10 Acne Myths
Acne Myth #1: Only Teens Get Acne
Since approximately 85% of adolescents encounter some form of acne, it does seem like they “own it”. However, up to 64 percent of American men and women in their 20s, and 43 percent in their 30s, have dealt with adult acne. Adult acne affects women more than men as acne can correlate to hormonal fluctuations, which women experience throughout their lives.
Acne Myth #2: It’s OK to Pop Pimples
We can’t stress this enough: never pick at a pimple, no matter how frustrating it is to leave it alone. It’s best to wait it out and let it run its course but there are a couple of things you can do to help it run its course. Apply an ice cube to the pimple to reduce inflammation. Then follow with a medicated spot treatment — something with benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria or salicylic acid to help loosen dead skin cells and reduce swelling and redness. A little concealer can help cover up acne as well (that goes for the guys out there, too!). Just make sure it’s non-comedogenic so it won’t further clog your pores.
Acne Myth #3: The Sun Clears Up Acne
When it comes to acne, the sun is not your friend. It may feel like it’s drying up your pimples, but, at best, a tan or mild sunburn only camouflages the breakout.
Acne Myth #4: Acne is Curable
Sorry to disappoint you but there is no official cure for acne. Acne is chronic and can last anywhere from a few years in teens to 20 years or more in adults. It’s a condition, which means it’s a continuous situation that exists on your skin and beneath its surface. Acne may come and go at different times in your life, but if you are acne-prone, you should always be concerned with managing it.
Acne Myth #5: Pimples Happen Overnight
Acne always seems to appear out of nowhere but it can actually be weeks in the making before it showed up on your skin. Acne is a complicated process. It’s not just one thing gone wrong, but can be up to four interrelated steps. They are:
Step 1: Excess dead skin cells clog the pore
Step 2: Overproduction of oil (sebum)
Step 3: Overgrowth of p. acnes bacteria in the pore
Step 4: Inflammation (swelling) as a reaction to the bacteria and its byproducts
Both exfoliation and the use of salicylic acid medication remove the build up of dead skin cells on your skin; benzoyl peroxide kills the p. acnes bacteria; and sulfur reduces swelling and redness and absorbs excess oil. As you can see, it takes a while for that pimple to reach your skin’s surface. That’s why it’s important to address acne before it starts. While this can take time in the beginning, a consistent, daily acne treatment routine can help break the acne cycle.
Acne Myth #6: Spot Treating Pimples Clears Up Acne
Acne is the underlying condition that creates your present and future pimples. Pimples are the last stage of the acne process (see Myth #5) so treating one pimple at a time, is not the most effective route to take and will not help prevent new breakouts from forming.
Acne Myth #7: Pores Can Open and Close
You’ve probably heard that you can steam open your pores with hot water, and close them with cold water but this is not true. Pores are passageways that house hair follicles and sebaceous glands. They allow sweat to cool you and sebum (aka oil) to condition your skin but they do not have a muscle to allow them to open and close at will.
Exfoliating with a physical scrub and daily cleansing with glycolic acid and salicylic acid can loosen dead skin cells, decreasing the crater-like build up around a pore. These actions can help make your pores look smaller.
Acne Myth #8: Dirty Skin Causes Acne
The good news is that acne is not caused by dirt or uncleanliness. The bad news is that the bacteria that cause acne (p. acnes) are already on your skin and feeding on excess oil. Washing your face twice a day will help reduce bacteria, remove surface oil and help exfoliate dead skin cells. It’s only when the bacteria gets trapped in the pore that you need to take the extra step and target it with benzoyl peroxide.
Overzealous scrubbing can cause irritation, even tiny scratches and micro-tears in the skin, which open the gates to more infection and inflammation. And stay away from rubbing alcohol as it will only cause dryness and irritation.
Acne Myth #9: All Exfoliators are the Same
Acne Myth #10: French Fries Cause Acne
Another diet myth is that drinking more water will somehow flush your acne from the inside out. While you should definitely drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day, there is no evidence proving that more water will reduce your acne.