FIVE MYTHS AND FIVE FACTS ABOUT ACNE.
1) Acne is caused by certain foods you eat. This is a myth. Food does not cause acne. Scientists have been unable to find a substantial connection between diet and acne.
2) Sun exposure can help clear up acne. This is a myth. Small amounts of sun exposure can initially improve acne, but continuous exposure to the sun will actually clog up pores even more, producing blackheads, white heads, and small pimples. So be sure to always use sunscreen – and find a non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging) product if you are prone to getting acne.
3) Since acne is not a serious health threat, there is really no reason to treat it. This is a myth. Acne can significantly affect the way people feel about themselves, which can cause low self-esteem and even depression.
4) The more you wash your face each day, the greater chance you have that your acne will clear up quickly. This is a myth. It is recommended that acne-prone skin be washed only 2 times per day to remove any excess oil and dead skin cells. Too much washing can irritate the skin and make matters worse. So wash twice a day, using a gentle cleanser that is oil-free and water-based.
5) Excessively drying out the skin is the best way to prevent acne outbreaks. This is a myth. You do not want your skin to be too dried out because skin can start to peel and dead skin can build up, causing pores to clog. Excessive oil can contribute to acne, but it is important that your skin has a certain amount of moisture. That said, an important part of your skin regimen is using a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic on a daily basis.
FACTS ABOUT ACNE:
1) It is not a good idea to pick or squeeze pimples and blemishes. This is a fact. Picking or squeezing can cause infection and scarring. Most acne will clear up on its own with having to resort to this. And if it doesn’t, then see your doctor or dermatologist rather than resorting to pimple popping.
2) Removing your make-up before going to bed and avoiding wearing any kinds of heavy make-up can help prevent acne from flaring up. This is a fact. Powder cosmetics are recommended over cream products because they are less irritating to the skin. And going to sleep with make-up on can clog your pores. In addition, be sure to throw out old make-up and watch any make-up brushes and applicators regularly with soapy water to help keep your skin clear.
3) Being aware of what touches your skin is important in preventing acne from flaring up. This is a fact. Keep your hair clean and off your face. Avoid resting your hands or objects such as telephone receivers on your face. And remember that tight-fitting clothes and hats can contribute to acne, especially if you wear these items during workouts or activities where you will be sweating.
4) It is important to shower as soon as possible after exercising or doing strenuous work to help keep acne in control. This is a fact. Oil and sweat on your skin can trap dirt and bacteria, which can then lead to acne flare-ups.
5) There is no cure for acne. This is a fact. There are various kinds of treatments that can help to prevent and control acne, but there is no cure. What this means is that if you are prone to acne, you will need to keep up a treatment regimen that will help to keep your skin clear even once your acne is visibly reduced. This may include using products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as the active ingredients, or in some severe cases taking oral prescription medications.
When to seek medical advice:
Acne isn’t a serious medical condition, but you should seek treatment from a dermatologist for persistent pimples or inflamed cysts that could cause scarring or other damage to the skin. In addition, if acne or scarring is affecting your self-esteem or comfort level when it comes to socializing, consider speaking with a dermatologist to see if your acne can be more controlled and/or your scars diminished.
If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also get a referral to see a dermatologist from your primary care physician or contact your insurance company for a list of in-network dermatologists.