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Updated 25 October 2013

Myths about acne

Through the ages, there have been many myths about acne. We list the myths and give you the facts.

18

Myth: Fatty foods and chocolates affect acne
Fact: Although it is always important for general health to follow a balanced diet, there is no proof that eating fatty foods and chocolates will cause or worsen acne. In fact, there is a poor relationship between acne and diet in general. An exception to the rule is iodised table salt which may aggravate acne. But if you find that certain foods have a bad influence on your skin, try to avoid them – it may be causing an allergic reaction.

Myth: Only teenagers have acne
Fact: Rarely, babies are born with acne and some people get acne for the first time after they’ve reached adulthood. Most people outgrow acne; but in women it may last until the menopause. 5% of women of 40 years of age have acne; but only 1% of men in that age group.

Myth: Acne can be cured
Fact: Not yet - but don't despair, it can be treated effectively.

Myth: Poor hygiene can cause acne
Fact: Acne is not caused by dirt or surface oil. As many people believe it to be the case, they tend to overwash their skin, thereby making acne worse, drying the skin out and causing flare-ups. It is only necessary to wash your skin twice a day with a gentle soap.

Myth: Being in the sun can improve acne
Fact: There is no evidence that sunlight improves acne. Sunlight can do more harm than good as it leads to early ageing and increases your risk of skin cancer. Many medications used to treat acne can actually make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light.

Myth: You should let acne run its course
Fact: Why run the risk of letting acne run its course? There have been great advances in the treatment of acne and with the right treatment, acne can be cleared up.

Myth: Acne is caused by stress
Fact: Stress cannot cause acne but it can make acne worse and having acne can be very stressful.

Myth: There is nothing I can do about scarring
Fact: Thanks to modern technology though, you don’t have to be scarred for life! Before launching into the many ways to treat scarring, there’s one sure method of preventing or limiting the extent of scarring. Treat acne itself early and effectively, for as long as necessary. There are many different ways in which you could treat scarring. Go to the section on scarring to learn everything you need to know.

Myth: Acne is an infection
Fact: Acne is a skin disorder caused by a combination of factors, including hormones and genetics.

Myth: Acne is only a cosmetic disease
Fact: Acne can also affect your mood, self confidence and the way you feel about yourself. You may feel that everyone is staring at you and you may even avoid going out and socialising. You may also feel hopeless and even depressed. Fortunately there are many things you can do to lift your spirits and to make you feel more confident. The first step is to speak to someone you trust. If need be, professional help is available to help you deal with things.

Myth: It is safe to stop your medication if your acne has cleared up
Fact: Never stop on your own – always ask your doctor or dermatologist first. If you stop your medication too soon, or even if you change the dose, your acne might flare up again.

Myth: Sex and masturbation can lead to acne
Fact: This is an age-old myth. Although the sex hormone testosterone is a major cause of acne, whether or not you engage in any sexual act has no effect on acne and definitely doesn’t cause it.


 
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