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Myths, legends and errors present in acne, even in the 21st century

Myths, legends and errors present in acne, even in the 21st century

While assessing which acne treatment is appropriate for a patient, it is valuable to consider the beliefs of patients regarding acne. Popular discourse perpetuates these myths, and these myths echo in the examination room, sometimes drowning out the recommendations of the dermatologist and utilization of dermatological acne treatments.

  1. Only teens get acne. Acne is the most common skin disease. People of all races and ages get acne. Although 85% of teens get some form of acne 30% of adults, both men, and women, experience acne. Some people develop acne for the first time in their 20s or 30s, and they are often shocked because the mythos of acne is that it is a disease that disappears before college.
  2. Acne is caused by dirt. Patients need to understand that acne is a complex disease of follicular units unrelated to dirt. The bacteria responsible for inflamed acne breakouts are Propionibacteria acnes (P. acnes). Blackheads are not due to dirt, but rather to the pathology of follicles and buildup and alteration on sebum.
  3. You need to wash your face more. Washing your face more often won’t cure your acne. Hygiene isn’t related to the development of acne. Washing the face each day gets rid of dead skin cells, excess oil, but too much cleansing or washing too vigorously can lead to dryness and irritation — which can actually make acne worse. Try to wash your face no more than twice a day with gently washing — not scrubbing or rubbing with a mild cleanser and patting the skin dry. Kids should steer clear of harsh exfoliants or scrubs, which can actually irritate blemishes. In addition, toners containing high concentrations of alcohol can dry out the skin and should be avoided.
  4. It’s OK to pop your pimples safely. This is never a good idea. Squeezing your pimples triggers inflammatory responses, though may make it seem less noticeable temporarily, popping can cause the zit to stay around longer. Popping a pimple pushes bacteria from the zit further into the skin, making the area around the acne even more reddened and inflamed It also can cause acne scars, brown or red marks to form that could last months or in the form of dents and pits, that can last forever by breaking the follicular unit spilling inflammatory mediators into the surrounding tissue. In fact, there is a distinct type of acne caused by picking that is well known to dermatologists as acne excoriee de jeune fille (translated as “picked pimples,” although it literally means “the picked at acne of the young woman”).
  5. The sun and tanning beds clear up acne. Although it may feel like it’s drying your skin and temporarily covering the redness of acne, the sun is not helpful in healing acne. The sun can inflame and dry your skin which causes your skin to produce more oil, ultimately making it worse developing dry, irritated, or even burned skin and the promotion of skin cancer. Encourage kids to keep skin safe by wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses when outdoors. They should also wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (or SPF) of at least 30 that’s labeled “noncomedogenic” which means the product won’t clog pores. It’s especially important for kids who use prescription acne medications to stay out of the sun and away from tanning beds. These drugs can make skin extremely sensitive to sunlight and the rays from ultraviolet tanning booths.
  6. Toothpaste can clear a pimple. Toothpaste and other household items are not safe on your skin. While it’s true that several ingredients found in toothpaste are drying the skin and might help shrink your pimple, this home remedy for breakouts isn’t worth the risk. Although it’s not clear exactly how and where this trend got started, there are some likely reasons. First of all, many toothpaste formulas once contained a chemical called triclosan that could work to kill the bacteria that causes and worsens breakouts. Also, some ingredients commonly found in toothpaste, such as baking soda, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, are known to be drying, which could help shrink a zit and the menthol in toothpaste can create a tingly feeling that may temporarily reduce pain and swelling. Toothpaste is formulated for the teeth, not the sensitive surface of the face because it has a basic pH that and can irritate the skin, which has a naturally acidic pH.
  7. Greasy food causes acne. Chocolate, french fries, and other junk food have little to no effect on acne. There is no scientific evidence that these foods cause acne. In addition, diet can affect hormones that, in turn, could make acne For example, milk and foods with a high sugar content can cause a rise in insulin levels, altering other hormones that can affect the skin. Some research has linked milk and whey protein with acne.
  8. Makeup causes acne. Makeup can only irritate your skin if you’re using the wrong products those that are non-acnegenic or noncomedogenic generally do not worsen acne. Foundations that are oil-free and lightweight won’t cause any issues unless you forget to remove them at night. Don’t forget to wash your face before bed to remove any makeup and oil. Patients who believe foundation may be contributing to their acne can be encouraged to wear mineral-based makeup. So, it’s a myth that they must leave their acne lesions uncamouflaged. Cosmetics labeled “organic,” “all-natural,” or those containing herbs may contribute to clogged pores and acne, so it’s best for kids who are prone to breakouts to steer clear of them.
  9. Acne will go away, so you don’t need to treat it. Acne is chronic, meaning it can last a long time. You should always be concerned with managing your acne. If left alone without even attempts at topical treatment, it can worsen and scar. Treatment helps and should not be avoided simply because someday the acne will go away. Acne is treatable and early intervention, which can be mild and topical, matters. Depression is more common in acne patients than in those without acne. Acne is a disease that requires medical treatment. Those who say it is only a cosmetic concern perpetuate a myth that is false and pernicious
  10. Acne medications work immediately. The patients always want immediate results. Medications may take up to 12 weeks to make a significant difference, and that acne can relapse as well. The average acne patient is used to strep throat getting better with a few days of antibiotic treatment, but even the strongest medication like oral isotretinoin or minocycline can take months to significantly clear acne. But whatever patients may think, results will not be immediate.




People’s assumptions about acne, much like their assumptions about other complex matters, often are the result of misunderstandings and require clarification.



dr. anca minca


Dr. Anca Mincă, dermatologist

Spitalul Clinic Colentina, Bucharest


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