Everyone has an opinion on acne – what’s causing it and how to treat it. But what advice should you be listening to? And what advice is nothing more than a myth?
In this article, we’ll bust some of the biggest acne myths.
Myth: Acne is caused by poor hygiene
Despite popular belief, acne is not caused by poor hygiene.
For an acne lesion to form, a pore must first become clogged by excess sebum production, oils or dead skin cells.
While it’s true that cleansing the skin can help remove oils and dead skin cells, it’s unlikely that poor hygiene will lead to clogged skin and cause the acne. This is because the skin is really good at exfoliating itself.
In fact, it’s more likely that over-cleansing the skin will exacerbate acne by causing irritation. Cleansing products can also cause acne if they contain pore-clogging ingredients and oils.
However, this does not mean you can skip your cleansing routine all together. Good skincare products help to maintain a healthy acid mantle and skin microbiome, which are beneficial in preventing acne. There are also natural skincare products for acne that contain plants and essential oils that can prevent and heal breakouts.
Myth: Only teenagers get acne
While it's true that acne is most common in teenagers, for women it can occur at any age between puberty and menopause. Adult acne is becoming increasingly common, with many women experiencing acne well into their 30s and 40s. Women are also more likely to experience acne during pregnancy and menopause due to changes in hormone levels.
Myth: Eating greasy or oily foods causes acne
Eating greasy or oily foods does not directly cause acne. In fact, including some healthy oily foods in your diet, such as olive, hemp, oily fish and coconut oil actually benefits skin health.
However, consuming unhealthy fats and greasy foods is not good for overall health, especially if consumed regularly and over a long period of time. And, as the body is a holistic vessel, an imbalance in general health can contribute to skin inflammation. While this is not a direct cause, it can be a contributing factor.
It’s also important to note that diet does have a direct link to acne. A diet high in simple carbohydrates, refined sugars, and dairy products is one of the leading causes of chronic acne in both men and women. This is because these foods can cause a spike in insulin levels, triggering the production of acne-causing hormones.
Myth: Chocolate causes acne
The cacao bean, which is the main ingredient in chocolate, contains properties that are beneficial to the health of the body and of the skin. Cacao provides the body with good healthy fats, and is one of the richest sources of magnesium.
Magnesium reduces blood-sugar, calms the nervous system, normalises progesterone, and activates vitamin D – all of which are beneficial to hormonal health and for keeping the skin clear.
For this reason, dark chocolate in small amounts is a beneficial addition to a healthy skin diet.
However, most confectionary milk chocolates have a high sugar content, so they can cause acne when consumed in excess. This is because the high sugar content can cause an elevation of the male-sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the most common cause of acne in women.
Myth: Acne is only a cosmetic issue
It’s only in very minor cases of acne that it is just a cosmetic issue. In most cases, acne is caused by an imbalance in the body, usually the hormonal system.
Acne can also have a significant impact on your mental and emotional well-being. It can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and anxiety. In severe cases, acne can also lead to depression.
Myth: Sun exposure clears up acne
While it's true that exposure to sunlight can temporarily improve the appearance of acne, this is only a short-term solution. In the long run, sun exposure can actually make acne worse by causing inflammation and damaging the skin. It's important to wear sunscreen and protect your skin from the sun, even if you have acne.
There are lots of sunscreen options for acne-prone skin. The zinc found in many natural sunscreens can even be beneficial in healing acne lesions as zinc has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Myth: You should pop your pimples to get rid of them
Popping or squeezing pimples can make acne worse by pushing the bacteria deeper into the skin, causing inflammation and more breakouts.. It can also lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation. It's best to stop picking and squeezing and let the acne heal with the use of topical treatments, while also working on healing the root cause.
Myth: Alcohol causes acne
Excessive or daily alcohol consumption can disrupt the gut microbiome and contribute to an acne condition, but it’s unlikely to be the direct cause. If you have acne and you drink alcohol, opt for non-sugary drinks and always drink in moderation.
Myth: The birth control pill is a cure for acne
Although some types of hormonal birth control can temporarily clear acne, the acne is likely to return after stopping the medication. Coming off hormonal birth control can also be the cause of acne in some women who had not experienced acne before.
Myth: Acne is genetic so it can't be cured
There is no specific acne gene. However, genetics can play a role in whether you're prone to acne. For example, it may be that the women in your family tend to have an androgen sensitivity or estrogen dominance – both of these hormone imbalances can cause acne.
Whatever the cause of your acne, there’s always a treatment plan that can completely clear the skin and prevent future breakouts.
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