Acne

Updated 06 December 2017

10 acne myths you shouldn’t believe

There are many misconceptions about acne and even more bogus treatments. Don’t fall for these myths.

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There are many ways to treat acne, including changes in lifestyle, the use of certain skincare products and medication. Anyone who’s ever experienced acne will be able to tell you that there are many misconceptions about and bogus treatments for this common ailment. Here are some of the biggest acne myths:

1. Acne only occurs in teenagers

While acne in teens is common, this doesn’t mean that adults can’t get acne. Many people who went through their high school years with clear skins can suddenly experience a change in their skin condition in their late 20s and 30s. Some people can even develop acne in their 40s and 50s. Adult acne is more common among women than men and is often caused by hormone imbalances. 

2. Blackheads are caused by dirt in the pores

Those unsightly small bumps that appear when your pores become clogged are not filled with dirt, no matter what your parents tell you. Oil, dead skin cells and bacteria can block your pores, causing blackheads.

3. You shouldn’t use moisturiser

A common misconception is that you shouldn’t be using any form of moisturiser on your already oily skin, as this will aggravate your acne. Truth be told, skipping your moisturiser will not do your skin any favours. When your skin receives no moisture, it produces its own oil, causing your skin to become even oilier. Your dermatologist will include a specific moisturiser in your skincare routine, with the correct ingredients for your condition.

woman applying moisturiser

4. You should wash your face more often than those with regular skin

You may be tempted to wash your face as often as you can, but don’t do this. Washing your face too frequently can strip the skin's natural moisture, which will lead to an overproduction of oil and, you guessed it, even more oily skin.

5. Toothpaste will dry acne out

This may seem like a quick go-to solution to dry out a stubborn pimple, but don’t do it, say the skin experts. Toothpastes contain harsh ingredients that may irritate the skin even more. However, the jury is still out on some aspects of this myth. Fact is that some toothpastes contain triclosan, an antimicrobial that kills bacteria – so while a dab of toothpaste may help, it should not be your go-to remedy.

toothpaste

6. Squeezing a pimple will provide relief

Extracting pimples is a job best left in the capable hands of your dermatologist, says the American Academy of Dermatology. They have the exact tools and sterile standards to ensure extraction without nasty side-effects. When you spread bacteria with dirty fingers, it can result in infection and even scarring.

7. Sunscreen will make your acne much worse

While the ingredients in some sunscreens might not always be suitable for all skin types, this doesn’t mean that you should go out in the sun without any protection. While a little bit of sunlight is beneficial for health, sun exposure for hours at a time is not healthy. If you are on oral medication such as Accutane, your skin is especially sensitive to the sun. Your dermatologist will be able to recommend a sunscreen suitable for you.

8. Exfoliate as much as possible

Exfoliation is an important step in any skin care regime, but it shouldn’t be overdone. Harsh abrasive products can cause dryness, redness and skin irritation – that may exacerbate existing acne.  

9. You might have an underlying health issue

While some lifestyle factors such as diet and hormones do have an impact on your skin, acne doesn’t always have to have an underlying cause. Yes, acne can definitely be an unpleasant symptom of a condition like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but don’t immediately assume the worst. Monitor your acne for a couple of months and then seek further treatment for a possible underlying cause.

10. Medication is your only treatment option

Not true. Not all cases of acne are equally severe. Besides Accutane and other oral medications for acne, the oral contraception can also be prescribed in cases where hormonal fluctuation may cause acne. However, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for acne, and if someone you know benefitted from medication it doesn’t mean you will too. Accutane can also have unpleasant side-effects such as depression. Consult your doctor or dermatologist for a personalised treatment plan. 

Image credits: iStock