Acne is a multi-faceted, complex medical problem that has many causes.  From the wedding day pimple to the prom night blemish, no one wants to have a broken out face.  Acne causes angst for many…and we are going to clear up some of the most common “Acne Myths” by letting you know what is fact and what is fiction…

Myth # 1: Sunlight and tanning beds will improve acne.

While it is true that sun exposure will dry out your existing pimples, it will not prevent new ones from forming. For some people, the sun can actually make their acne worse, and some of the common acne medications, like tetracycline and the retinoids can make your skin sun sensitive and lead to serious sunburns. We know that sun exposure causes skin cancer and wrinkles, so do not try sunbathing or tanning to improve your breakouts.  When you’re in the sun, it is always wise to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin.

Myth # 2: Acne is a “dirt” problem.

If you have acne, it does not mean that your skin is dirty. What may look like dirt inside your black heads is actually melanin, the pigment that provides the natural color in your skin. Cleansing and scrubbing your skin excessively will not help your acne; in fact, it may make it worse.  You should avoid over washing. This can dry out and irritate your skin, increasing inflammation and aggravating the situation. The best thing to do is to gently wash your face twice a day with a mild soap and then pat dry.

Myth # 3: Adults should not still be getting acne.

Adult acne is actually becoming more and more common, especially in women. Forty percent of adults have problems with acne.  The cause of this trend is not known, but it appears to be related to fluctuating hormones and the onset of premenopause and perimenopause. This supposition is based on the observation that the acne is not characterized by open and closed comedones, but rather inflammatory papules and pustules that I like to call the “undergrounders”. Because these lesions are deeper in the skin, the use of oral antibiotics and hormonal therapies, such as birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy, are the best options for acne control in this population. Cosmetics and skin care products have little effect on this type of acne.

Myth #4: Sunscreens produce acne

Many patients blame breakouts on sunscreens. In some patients, increased sweating and hot, sunny weather may cause a “heat rash,” aslo medically known as miliaria rubra, that may be worsened by the occlusive nature of the water-resistant, rub-proof sunscreen product.  Fortunately, there are newer formulations of sunscreens that significantly lessen the risk of breaking out, such as Elta Clear, Neocutis Journee and Obagi C-Sunguard, which are all available for purchase at Warthan Dermatology Center.  So, don’t skip your sunscreen because you think it is causing acne.

Myth #5: Chocolate causes acne.

In large research studies, NO clear associations have been made between foods (like dairy and chocolate) and acne. However, some foods can make acne worse for some people. If you suspect that a certain food is making your acne worse, avoid that product for 2-4 weeks. If your acne improves , then it’s possible that you were right! After a few weeks, you can try eating the suspected food again to see whether you get another flare of your acne. Just remember that a healthy, well-balanced diet is the best choice.  So chocolate lovers, you can still enjoy chocolate now and then without worrying about getting more zits!

Acne is a health condition that is best treated by a dermatologist.  If you have acne and you feel that it is getting worse instead of better, the best thing that you can do see a dermatologist who will prescribe an appropriate prescription treatment for your type of acne.  So give us a call for an appointment to discuss your acne and let us get you a successful acne treatment!  There are lots of effective acne medications that can give you the clear skin you have always dreamed of!