As a long time sufferer of acne I have heard many myths over the years about my skin condition. If you have acne you may be confused by some of the things you hear out there about causes and treatments. So let's discuss the myths and realities about blemishes, zits, and pimples.
Myth Number One: Only teens get zits.
I am walking proof that this is false. You can get acne at any age. I am 45 and I still get acne. I have seen one estimate that says 25% of all people between the ages of 25-44 have acne. Women seem especially prone to adult acne due to fluctuating hormones due to menstrual cycles or even pregnancy. Heredity is also a factor for many people who have acne problems. The treatments you used as a teen may not be so effective with your adult acne. My best suggestion is to seek help from a dermatologist to treat your adult acne. I wished that I had seen one sooner instead of wasting years trying over the counter products which simply did not work for me.
Myth Number Two: If you have acne it means your skin is dirty and you just need to wash your face more.
This is another myth! Some people wonder if blackheads are filled with dirt because of the color. It isn't dirt and cannot be washed away. The black head is just a combination of sebum (oil) and dead skin cells. The pore is clogged but open to air which oxidizes the material inside and turns it dark. When I was a teen with acne I was told to scrub and wash my face more often by well intentioned friends. I can tell you from firsthand experience that all this did was to aggravate the situation and cause me to have more acne. The suggested cleansing ritual is to wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser and then pat dry. I use a prescribed cleanser from my dermatologist called Rosula which works very well for me.
Myth Number Three: Eating chocolate will make you break out.
I remember hearing this as a teen-ager. Someone would comment that I must eat a lot of chocolate because I had zits. As a teen-age girl of course I liked chocolate. So I was always mortified to think that one of my favorite things in the world could cause pimples. I remember doing an experiment of not eating any chocolate for a month. It may or may not surprise you to know that my abstinence from enjoying chocolate had no effect whatsoever on my skin. Many years later I learned that there are absolutely no clinical studies which support this myth that eating chocolate causes acne. Perhaps this legend was started by a chocolate hater?
This is not to say that diet doesn't affect our skin. A 2007 study led by Australian researcher Neil Mann found that a diet heavy in carbohydrates with a high glycemix index (things like donuts, white bread, white rice) can cause glucose and insulin levels to increase and may affect the development and severity of acne. They also found that a diet with a low glycemic index seemed to decrease acne. So it seems that a good healthy diet may be beneficial for your skin.
Myth Number Four: Any over the counter acne product will probably help treat your acne.
This has not been my experience especially for treating my adult acne. I have used some products which did absolutely nothing and some products caused my face to break out more such as using some facial masks. Some overly dry out your skin so you end up having zits and dry, flakey, and even inflamed skin. Before experimenting with a bunch of over the counter products that may or may not work I would strongly suggest seeing a dermatologist if you have persistent acne. The doctor will be able to determine the right combination of prescription medications which are right for you. What may work for one person may not work for you so it is all the more imperative that you get an individualized acne treatment plan from your doctor.
Myth Number Five: Popping a zit is the fastest way to get rid of it.
Not only will popping a zit not get rid of it, it probably will make it blow up even bigger as you have now opened up a sore to further bacteria and infection. Just read my article entitled, "Don't Pop that Zit!" for more information on why this is not a good technique for eliminating pimples.
For even more information about acne causes and treatments please visit our Acne Information page right here on My Skin Care Connection.
Smith R., Mann N., Braue A., Mäkeläinen H., Varigos G. "A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007); 86: 107-115.
Published On: December 21, 2009