There are a lot of misconceptions about acne out there, and today I’m going to set the record straight. I’m going to debunk the most common myths about acne.
Myth #1: You just have to live with it, you can’t cure acne. That, fortunately, is not true. Today, more than ever, we have more and more effective treatments for acne. For mild acne, we have topical treatments, topical antibiotics, benzyl peroxides, exfoliants like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and even the traditional topical treatments like sulfur and Resorcinol. For more advanced acne, we have oral medication that works very well, oral antibiotics, birth control pills and ultimately, Accutance, if the other treatments haven’t worked. Accutance will work 100% of the time because Accutane stops oil and if you don’t have oil, you don’t have acne.
Myth #2: Acne is a disease of teenagers, you’ll outgrow it. Not true but, fortunately, since we have treatments to cure acne, it almost doesn’t matter. But the reality is we’ve seen a shift in the age spectrum of acne, particularly amongst women. We see more acne now in women in their later twenties, thirties, forties and even fifties. Some women even have acne right into menopause. We think that the reason for this change in the age spectrum has to do with: 1) more women in the workforce where they experience untraditional stresses; 2) air pollution; 3) make-up. And speaking about make-up . . .
Myth #3: I can’t cover my acne with make-up. Sure you can, as long as the make-up is appropriate. As long as it’s marked either water-based or oil-free or non-comedogenic which simply means it won’t clog your skin. You can certainly cover acne blemishes with that make-up.
Myth #4: Picking pimples causes scars. You’d have to pick really deep to cause a scar. A scar is a depression in the skin, underneath the surface, or a bump above the surface of the skin, but what picking pimples does do, it causes flat stains, discolorations, dark spots on the pimple, around the pimple, and these are even more difficult to treat than the actual pimples themselves. So the reason not to pick pimples is so that you don’t get these dark stains which are so annoying and so hard to get rid of.
Myth #5: Cortisone creams are good for my acne. Well, cortisone creams may actually improve your pimples temporarily but when you use it repeatedly, it’s going to cause more pimples, it’s going to thin the skin, and ultimately break your blood vessels, so don’t use cortisone creams on pimples.
Myth #6: Food causes acne. We’ve all heard about the traditional forbidden foods like chocolate, nuts, caffeine, colas, fried foods, pizza. The reality? When you do well-controlled, statistically-valid studies, those foods don’t cause acne but there are always exceptions to these studies so some people come in and tell me when I eat chocolate, I break out, and I tell that patient, of course, you obviously can’t eat chocolate. But at this point in your life, if you haven’t noticed a relationship between eating those foods and breaking out with pimples the next day, then there probably is no relationship. The only exception is iodine and iodine is contained in shellfish, lobster, shrimp, crabmeat, certain green vegetables that come out of the ocean like seaweed, spinach, kelp and certain medications like thyroid medications. Iodine will cause pimples, will cause acne, but not the day after you eat it. It’s the accumulation by eating these foods day after day that suddenly causes acne. So the bottom line is, if you’re prone to acne, try to avoid iodine-containing foods. There are two other myths that can easily be debunked.
Myth #7: Antibiotics weaken my system so I shouldn’t take them for acne. The reality, the antibiotics prescribed for acne will not weaken your system, they’re not used for more important infections, and they’re perfectly safe if used as prescribed.
Myth #8: And last, the most important time of the day to wash my face is after I’ve done sports or perspired. The reality is the most important time is right before you do sports because when you perspire, you tend to wipe your skin, you wipe in and rub in the grime, the dirt, the oils that were there, and that aggravates acne. Wash them off before you do your sports. After you’ve perspired, you’ve only made water and salt, and water and salt is harmless on the skin and won’t aggravate your acne. I hope that gives you some insights as to the reality of what acne is about and debunked those myths.