9 Myths About Acne and Pimples You Have Misunderstood

Body & Mind

How important is facial wash in getting rid of acne? Do acne problems only happen to teenagers? Find out all the myths you have been believing in wrongly here!


Time to knock down some healthcare myths!

Do you remember about Dollah’s acne problems with pimples popping out here and there? He got rid of them, but they keep returning again and again.

“Are you sure you’re taking care of your skin properly?”

“Of course! I followed all the advice and instructions I see on the TV!”

"......"

Where do you get advice for your skin problems from?

A study done by university researchers found that we often find sources of information for acne treatment from the TV, our parents, friends, magazines, and most of all - advertisements.

Many factors such as smoking, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), stress, lack of sleep, cosmetics, excessive sweating and medicines have been implicated as causes of acne.

I’ve also heard (bizarrely) that sunlight exposure can actually help acne recovery. 

But what is true and what is false?

Myth #1: Women get more acne than men

Men get more acne than women

"Oh no, another pimple!"

Or rather, women are more vocal and more concerned about acne problems than men, which is why we often think so.

This, however, is not true, because according to a study done by the University of Munich, acne is more prevalent in men (29.9%) than in women (23.7%)!

Myth #2: Acne only happens during your teenage years

Acne doesn't only happen during your teenage years

Sadly, no. Although the occurrences are lower, we can still face acne problems even after puberty.

Furthermore, the peak period of acne breakout is between 14 and 29 years of age, so it doesn’t just stop at our teens, but accompanies us well into our late twenties as well.

You didn’t think Dollah was that young anyway, did you?

Myth #3: Milk is good for getting rid of acne

Milk can encourage acne formation

As a matter of fact, no - milk can instead increase acne formation!

Dairy products like whole milk or partially skimmed milk, sherbets, cheese and cream cheese can increase acne formation, due to the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in cow’s milk.

These hormones can disrupt our internal body hormones, and this means a risk of acne formation.

Myth #4: Your diet has got nothing to do with your face

Your diet can cause your acne

Your diet has got everything to do with your face - especially your pimples.

Easily digested carbohydrate foods like soft drinks, sweets, white bread and white rice can produce an overload in our blood glucose level (a situation known as hyperglycemia). 

This stimulates the secretion of insulin, which in turn triggers the release of IGF-1 (a protein), affecting the pilosebaceous unit and stimulate hyperkeratosis and epidermal hyperplasia, facilitating acne formation.

Yes, these terms got my head spinning as well, so let’s see a simpler illustration of food and pimples:

How your diet can affect your acne

Foods with high fats and sugar content also increase our skin sebum outflow, facilitating acne growth.

Remember these foods that you should avoid so that you don’t get acne problems?

Foods with high glycemic index can encourage acne growth, so having a low glycemic-load diet can improve acne condition (and help weight loss, too!).

*One popular question: Does chocolate cause acne formation?

No - Cocoa doesn’t cause acne. However, the sugar, fats, and milk content in chocolate bars can facilitate acne formation - so choose your chocolates wisely!

Myth #5: You have acne because your face is dirty

Acne is not caused by dirt or poor personal hygiene

Acne is not caused by dirt or poor personal hygiene. This misconception usually come from the idea that pimple blackheads look like dirt stuck in the opening of our facial pores. 

Actually, blackheads are not dirt, but oxidized keratin. These are the blockages that cause acne to form deep within the narrow follicle channel, which is impossible to wash away - unlike dirt on the surface.

However, this is not to say that face washing is unnecessary.

Washing and cleansing your face can unblock your skin pores, allowing sebum to flow out, and since oil can block passages of pores, this can help in reducing acne formation.

9 bad habits you need to quit to get rid of pimples!

How many times to wash your face per day? Remember our answer in my previous entry of 9 Reasons Why You Still Have Acne on Your Face? Watch out - washing your face too much can be traumatising for your skin!

Myth #6: Sunlight is good for acne recovery

Some people believe that sun exposure can get rid of acne

An Australian study found that even some doctors and nurses believed that sun exposure can be good for getting rid of acne, although it is more likely not the case

Conversely, exposure of skin to excess sunlight can actually increase the risk of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin malignancy. 

Do you know how to protect your skin from sunlight exposure? See how to use sunblock properly to protect your skin here!

Many studies about pimple home remedies have methodological limitations, especially on face-washing and sunlight.

So advice for skin conditions should be individualised, and both doctors and patients should be aware of this limitation.

Myth #7: Smoking causes dry skin, and thus less acne

Smoking doesn't help in acne recovery

This is definitely not true.

In fact, the prevalence of acne is higher in active smokers (40.8%) than non-smokers (25.2%)!

This is mainly due to the toxic substances present in cigarettes, and also because smoke from cigarettes can clog our pores, leading to even more pimples or other skin problems.

Myth #8: Acne during PMS only happens to young girls

Many women experience acne outbreak during PMS

Actually, the chances of acne outbreak during premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is more common among adult women than girls going through puberty.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, almost half of all women (44%) experience acne flares during PMS, and is significantly more prevalent in women older than 33 years old.

Myth #9: You’re the odd one with acne problems

You're not the only one with acne problems

You can be rest-assured that you are not alone with your acne problems. In fact, almost everyone have suffered from acne before.

Based on records in the Journal of Dermatology, nearly 85% of people aged 12-25 years old, 8% of adults aged 25-34 years old, and 3% of adults aged 35-44 years old experience acne. 

If you are looking for acne treatment, do check out the clinics near you with acne treatments here - send an enquiry to see if the medical treatments interest you!

So, Dollah - know what to believe in now?

Acne Myths

Do you have acne problems? Remember to check out the 9 Bad Habits You Must Stop to Get Rid of Acne!

What are some of the acne myths or beliefs you have heard of? Come chat with me in the comments!


Juliet's TipsJuliet’s Reminder: Food allergens usually have no significant impact on acne. They may cause rashes and skin reaction, but acne comes from a different source of follicular secretion. Individual cases may apply, since allergies can worsen acne, but they do not directly cause acne.

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