Clearing Up 10 Common Acne Myths

  • 10 acne myths

    June may be National Acne Awareness month, but for the 50 million Americans who live with acne, it’s a year-round concern. Though acne is a common condition, myths about its causes and treatments persist, and continue to prevent some people from achieving clear skin.

    So let’s clear up 10 of the biggest acne myths.

  • Myth 1: Acne Only Affects Teens

    Adult acne

    Unfortunately for some adults, acne continues to stick around well into adulthood. Some adults will continue to break out well into their 30s, 40s and even 50s, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). It is even possible to get acne for the first time as an adult, the group states.

  • Myth 2: Acne Is No Big Deal

    Acne depression

    WAcne can cause physical and emotional scars. It has been linked to poor self-image, depression and anxiety. Acne can also affect confidence and on-the-job performance. General Hospital actress Kirsten Storms recently announced that she’d be taking a break from the show because of “stress-related” acne that was becoming too difficult for on-set make-up artists to conceal. Treating acne often boosts a person’s self-esteem, the AAD states.

  • Myth 3: Acne Only Appears on the Face


    Acne can also appear on the back (aka “bacne”), chest, neck, shoulders, upper arms and buttocks.

  • Myth 4: Acne Is a Fancy Word for Pimples

    umbrella term

    Acne is an umbrella term for a host of skin blemishes including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, cysts and nodules. A dermatologist can properly diagnose acne and match treatment to the type of blemish, maximizing the chances of a successful outcome.

    Recommended acne treatments may include topical therapy, antibiotics, isotretinoin and oral contraceptives.

  • Myth 5: Eating Greasy Food or Chocolate Causes Breakouts


    There is no real evidence linking these foods to acne. That said, some research suggests that dairy products — particularly skim milk — and diets with a high glycemic index — such as those high in sugar and carbohydrates — may be linked to acne. Experts suggest keeping a food diary to see if you notice any patterns that emerge based on what you eat and how your skin looks. Consider an “elimination diet” to see if your skin improves when you cut out the possible offender(s).

  • Myth 6: Acne Is a Hygiene Problem


    Acne-prone individuals are not necessarily lacking in the hygiene department. The best way to clean the face is to gently wash it twice a day with a mild soap or cleanser. Too much washing or hard scrubbing will actually make acne worse.

  • Myth 7: A Tan Can Help Clear Up Acne


    The sun’s rays ultimately dry the skin and can make acne worse. Additionally, many acne medicines can make people more susceptible to sunburn, increasing the risk of skin cancer and wrinkles. There is no good reason to tan. Ever.

  • Myth 8: There Are No New Acne Treatments

    New Treatments

    Several new acne treatments have been approved in recent years, including some administered via energy-based devices. Exciting research is now looking at the use of CoolSculpting technology to freeze and kill affected oil-producing sebaceous glands. Stay tuned.

  • Myth 9: There Is No Role for Isotretinoin in Treating Severe Acne


    If severe acne or moderate acne does not respond to other therapy, oral isotretinoin is recommended, according to the latest guidelines from the AAD. This drug can cause some very serious side effects. It carries a high risk of birth defects, and as a result, females must take careful steps to prevent pregnancy and enroll in the federal iPledge program, which helps ensure no woman gets pregnant while taking isotretinoin.

  • Myth 10: Make-up Makes Acne Worse


    Some make-up can clog pores and contribute to acne, but the right make-up can, and should, help conceal acne without aggravating it. Look for the words “non-comedogenic” on the label. “Choosing products that are oil-free and won’t clog pores will help prevent future problems,” the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) suggests. “Some concealers even contain benzoyl peroxide which help to fight acne while also disguising it.”

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    Yael Halaas, MD, FACS

    60 East 56th Street
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    New York, NY 10022
    (332) 239-6439

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    Cosmetic Surgery Associates of New York

    465 Columbus Avenue
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    Min S. Ahn MD

    The Aesthetic Wellness Center
    2 Connector Road, #2C
    Westborough, MA 01581