Acne is a troubling skin condition affecting up to 25% or people at some time in their lives. It can cause physical discomfort and mental anguish.
Whilst there is a lot of information available about acne, much of it is based on misconceptions; from old wives’ tales to simple misinformation. Some notions are simply wrong, others can be harmful. We all want clear skin, so let’s set the record straight and bust some of the most common myths about acne?
Does eating chocolate cause acne?
There is a lot of controversy and conflicting information about this subject. A study published in 1969 appeared to absolve chocolate from any responsibility in acne breakouts, however the information later proved to be unreliable. Some recent research shows that there may be a link between cocoa consumption and acne.
Although the jury is still out on whether there is any truth to this idea, it has been established that a diet that is high in sugar or fat can encourage inflammatory responses in the body and increase the skin’s production of sebum, although an exact link to acne is not proven.
To be on the safe side, it is better to follow a healthy diet. As with any skin condition, staying hydrated and consuming fruits and vegetables, oily fish and a generally well balanced diet is best.
Only teenagers suffer from acne
Although acne is common among teenagers (due to hormonal changes), adults are vulnerable to it as well. In fact, 25% of people in the UK have suffered from acne at some point in their adult lives. Many of the factors associated with acne are not age related. There are a number of hormonal changes that might be connected with acne, including changes in pregnancy.
All the following have been implicated in acne:
- Birth control
- Changes in skin care routine
- Change in washing detergent or soap
- Diet (particularly high sugar, fat, dairy and carbohydrates)
- High testosterone levels
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Other factors such as stress, climate, and your work environment are suggested causes of worsening acne.
You can clear up acne by washing your face
This myth is easy to believe, however washing your face more often will not necessarily clear up your skin.
Cleansing is important, as it helps remove dead skin cells, oil and sebum. Acne arises when the pores become blocked, but washing your face too often could strip the skin of its natural protective oils. This can then lead to an overproduction of oil, resulting in outbreaks. Excessive scrubbing can also lead to irritation and dryness.
Stronger the better
When it comes to moisturisers, cleansers and any other skin care product, each person must choose the right one for their skin’s needs.
Some people believe that stronger treatments for acne work best. When properly dispensed, acne treatment usually begins with a lower dose single component topical preparation and can then be increased to a dual component preparation (with more than one active ingredient).
Antibiotic tablets should only be taken at the same time with certain topical treatments and only on the advice of a doctor. Prescription acne medication should only be obtained through a doctor. You cannot take a friend’s acne medication and expect it to be safe or effective. If you are concerned about your acne, schedule a consultation with a professional.
The sun can heal acne
We all need a bit of sun. Our body uses the sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, and sunlight can help reduce inflammation.
This does not mean you should try to get a tan if you have acne. In fact, too much sun is harmful to the skin. It breaks down collagen, causing premature ageing and can, of course, result in painful sunburn and peeling.
Under medical care, acne is a treatable condition. Instead of falling victim to common acne myths or pursuing a treatment that may not work for your condition, take the time to find out more about what is causing you to break out. Your GP or specialist can help you start a treatment plan.