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Myths and Misconceptions About Acne

Myths and Misconceptions About Acne

Worried that you are the only one fighting (and maybe losing) a battle with recurrent breakouts? Well, that's far from it. According to the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology), more than 60 million people in the States alone are struggling with zits and pimples as you read this. And, being such a common problem, it is no surprise that there are hundreds of myths about acne floating around almost everywhere you turn to. To help you wade through these misleading misconceptions, we have scoured the interwebs for the five common myths about acne that you are likely to fall for in your quest for a clear complexion.

5 Biggest Myths About Acne

Treating acne and fighting breakouts is, without a doubt, already complicated enough without having to grapple and tussle with myths about the causes of acne and bad skin. Here's a premise of 5 biggest myths about acne that you should expunge from your books this year.

1. You Have Breakouts Because You are Stressed or Depressed and It is "Normal"

how emotional stress causes acne

This is quite a common one; considering that most of us already have hectic schedules, imperfect relationships, little sleep and busy lives to blame for our acne woes. It is no wonder that most people do very little to find a lasting solution to their acne woes as they somehow mistakenly believe that they 'deserve' bad skin since they barely have happy lives. Some people go as far as taking sleep medications and anti-anxiety pills as a round-about way of dealing with acne. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a classic case of shifting the blame to something that we can't control just so to avoid having to deal with the elephant in the room.

However, in-depth scientific research shows that there's nothing to connect stress, depression or mental turmoil to breakouts. It is not correct, therefore, to solely attribute anxiety or mental distress to zits and breakouts. That being said, the American Academy of Dermatology has listed stress as one of the many factors that may contribute to a hormonal imbalance which may or may not trigger excessive sebum production. Oil production, nonetheless, is rarely a cause of breakouts by itself and it would be misleading to base your entire acne relief regimen to this one half-truth.

You see, acne is a complex multifactorial beast with roots stretching as far back as our genetics and lifestyle disposition. It, therefore, goes without saying that there is a need for a comprehensive, holistic and inside-approach if we are to combat acne successfully. A good breakout-fighting regimen should be centred on all aspects of our healthiness, including the following pointers;

  • Regular and effective exercise
  • Enough and sufficient sleep, all week around
  • A balanced and organic diet with minimal if any processed food
  • Meditation
  • A prescribed anti-acne medication based on your individual medical history

2. You Diet Has Nothing to do With Your Breakouts and Acne

acne food myths

One of the misleading myths about acne causes revolves around how what and how we eat has nothing to do with the state of our skin. This is not just false but also scientifically inept and off the mark. We are what we eat, quite literally. If anything, since your skin cells have a very short lifespan - less than a month - it is possible to trigger an acne breakout by simply changing your diet abruptly. The opposite is also true.

Speaking of which, a team of dermatologists, cosmetologists and skin specialists recently isolated how eating foods with a proven high glycemic load can trigger pimple problems in people who are genetically predisposed to breakouts. On further inspection, the July 2016 study traced the phenomenon to the impact that these simple carbs had on blood sugar as the reason behind the severe to moderate acne breakouts.

Foods with a glycemic index, also abbreviated as GI index, are likely to cause a sporadic blood sugar rush that could throw your hormonal balance into disarray. Low GI index foods, on the other hand, could help stave off inflammation giving your skin a better chance of staying clear of pimples and zits. It is highly advisable, for this reason, to get rid of highly processed carbs from your diet and instead replace them with plenty of fruits, healthy fats, whole grains, lean proteins (such as fish), fresh veggies and complex carbs. In the same breath, avoid or at least minimize your intake of fast food and sugary snacks.

Still on this, one of the other prevalent myths about what causes acne is centred on the common misconception that chocolate cannot cause your complexion to break out. In fact, at first, dark chocolate was for long thought to be the panacea of acne and zits. Then came the overwhelming evidence of how high-sugar foods and simple carbs can trigger inflammation and, consequently, acne. So damning was the evidence that a study published in 2016 gave a blow-by-blow account of how men with breakouts-prone skin saw their symptoms worsen after they added a little less than 1 oz of dark chocolate to their diet in just four weeks.

The bottom line? As far as acne is concerned, what you eat is still as important as what you put on your skin.

3. Tanning and Basking in the Sun Can "Dry Up" Your Pimples

The most potentially destructive of all myths about the causes of acne is the misguided belief that you can 'dry up' your blackheads and zits by baking in the sun. This is not just false but it also has serious health repercussions for those who might be deluded enough to attempt it.

For starters, deliberate tanning is one of the most prevalent habits that is associated with overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. It is, as a matter of fact, one of the most deleterious things that one can do to the largest organs in their body for a couple of reasons. For one, it is the leading cause of skin cancer. Yes, cooking in the hot sun for hours with no or little sunscreen just so that you can sport a tan is the quickest way to improve your odds of being diagnosed with melanoma carcinoma at some point down the road.

Secondly, nothing hampers or reverses all your anti-aging efforts like baking under the hot tropical sun. You see, the sun's UV rays have the capacity to permeate your skin and trigger a breakdown of collagen thereby making wrinkles, crow's feet and fine lines more visible particularly when you are not wearing any make up.

Thirdly, even if it worked (of course it does not), the majority of anti-acne ointments which you could be using if you have acne-prone skin have the unintended side effect of making one's skin over-sensitive to the sun. So that implies that by attempting to 'dry up' your pimples in the sun, you will be, in fact, triggering a series of flare ups which will worsen your symptoms even further.

4. Popping Pimples Makes Them Heal Faster

is popping pimples bad

Nothing could be further from the truth. Of these five myths about acne, this one is so pervasive that some 'skin experts' advance, advocate and even recommend it. Don't get me wrong here - while a professional dermatologist can recommend and conduct an acne cyst extraction procedure as one of their treatment options, this is hardly the same as popping pimples on your own. This is where it gets confusing, and there are several reasons for this.

First of, picking pimples actually prevents them from healing. Breakouts and pimples are mostly a response to bacterial colonization and blocked pores. Yes, that unsightly and painful bump is simply a sign that your body is trying to do something about it. By tearing your skin as you pop the pimples, you will be, in truth, undoing all the good work that has gone into containing the debris, oil and bacteria in one spot. Best case scenario, you will now have to contend with an open wound that could take ages to heal properly instead of just a bump. The worst case scenario? You will have successfully triggered a series of stubborn pimples by unintentionally spreading the contents of the original one to other parts of your face. Ever noticed how another pimple appears next to the one that you have just succeeded in picking?

Second, you will most probably neglect using perfectly sterilized equipment when picking your pimples. In other words, you will be introducing foreign bacteria, grim and dirt from your nails and fingers into the inflamed zit, consequently infecting it further and worsening the probability of it healing. And, most of the time, it can also lead to deep scarring that can take years to clear even if you do manage to solve the problem causing your skin to breakout in the first place.

Speaking of which, cystic scars can be hard to get rid of once they occur in the aftermath of bursted pimples and inflamed zits. You will have to shell hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in an expensive filler or laser treatment to combat cystic scarring and, even then, success is not guaranteed. So, save yourself the trouble and resist the urge to burst that blackhead the next time it pops up.

5. You Only Need One Anti-acne Skin Care Regimen or Remedy

It is easy to imagine that you should only rely on one anti-acne treatment at a go to clear up your complexion. But, in reality, you may want to combine two or three comprehensive regimens to get the results that you desire. Pairing a topical antibiotic cream, for instance, with an over-the-counter salicylic benzoyl peroxide gel can do wonders for you, especially if you have acne-prone skin. Also bear in mind that it could take as long as two or more months before you find a combinational formula that works for you - all the more reason to visit your dermatologist before attempting to treat acne on your own.

Why are There so Many Misconceptions about the Causes of Acne?

The reason there are numerous misconceptions about acne virtually everywhere you turn to can be alluded to the fact that we are yet to accept that pimples are, indeed, a health concern. While acne is not exactly a life-threatening concern, there is no understating the gravity of mental and emotional turmoil it can leave in its wake. Not also to mention the dent on one's self esteem that it can leave on a person.

Since most people, especially men, shy away from seeking comprehensive medical attention for their breakout woes (for the fear of being labelled vain or narcissistic), they will attempt unorthodox home remedies to rein the situation. The problem here is that most of these unproven treatments are founded on hearsay, un-scientific theories, myths, half truths and top common misconceptions about acne.

Does Antibiotic Cream Help Acne?

does antibiotic cream help acne

It is important to discard myth-talk and instead embrace science if you are to get hold of your acne situation. A good way of doing this is by adding antibiotic creams to your acne-fighting arsenal. It is a proven observation, for instance, that the inflammatory action of most topical antibiotics can lessen redness, swelling and the general discomfort brought about by a debilitating acne spell.

So, will antibiotic cream help acne? Indeed! If anything, most antibiotic creams are tailored in such a way that they can assist in keeping your skin pores open thereby reducing the chances of them clogging up and becoming inflamed. This goes for both antibiotic-only acne creams and antibiotic combination therapies. The latter employs a series of different active ingredients to restrict bacterial growth and stimulate the shedding of excessive dead skin cells that could be clogging your pores. They are the best for people suffering from severe acne spells that do not want to run the risk of developing unnecessary antibiotic resistance.

The takeaway, however, is that antibiotic acne treatments should only be administered under prescription by a trained dermatologist or pharmacists.

Will Vitamin E Cream Help Acne Marks on Face Go Away?

In theory, yes, it should work. Vitamin E is a renowned anti-inflammatory nutrient that can aid in triggering cell regeneration. It is this property that makes it such an effective treatment option against inflammatory acne types such as

  • Cysts
  • Nodules
  • Papules
  • Scars
  • Pustules

So, will vitamin e cream help acne marks on face go away? Of course, especially if your breakouts are as a result of alpha-tocopherol deficiency, which is not easy to diagnose. Also, considering that active acne breakouts sometimes benefit more from direct spot treatment approaches, this makes vitamin E creams a perfect candidate for this since it's lightweight and unnoticeable. You can, therefore, apply it concentrated in patches with the worst pimples without necessarily ruining your overall look. And if you cannot find a reliable Vitamin E cream that works for your skin, then eating foods that are considered to be rich in this nutrient can be a good alternative approach. These are the likes of almonds, sunflower seeds, coin oil, safflower oil, avocado and fortified cereals.

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