Acne Myths Vs Facts | From someone who lived with it for 9 years
If you’re here, I’m sure acne has bothered you big time. Or perhaps, your children. Well, if you’ve come here clearly assuming that I’m going to drop recommendations for some ‘miracle’ anti-acne product(s) that worked for me, don’t get me wrong. NO, I won’t! You may want to read about my experience with acne & how fighting acne IS possible. From suddenly becoming a recluse, shying away from stage appearances or being photographed, to breaking free from acne & keeping it away as much as possible, I have lots to tell you. As someone whose life in the age bracket of (12-21) years was terribly affected by acne, let’s bust some acne myths together!
And it’s always necessary to understand what basically ACNE is.
What causes ACNE? (the dermatological explanation)
ACNE occurs when the pores on any part of our body become clogged with excess oil and/or dead skin cells. This is commonly triggered by excess androgens. Although males have more androgens, they are also present in females. And the excessive activity of androgens aggravates acne.
TYPES OF ACNE
How long your acne will persist largely depends on the TYPE OF ACNE you have. I wouldn’t say that I’ve 100% gotten rid of acne today. Because, over your lifetime, you are likely to face more than one type of acne during different phases of age.
From what I’ve been through, and what I could comprehend from my consultations with 2 different dermatologists over 2 different phases, here’s how I would want to tell how every acne breakout pattern & phase is different.
Again, based on what my dermatologists explained & I assimilated with time, the following factors also determine the severity of acne:
- Lifestyle &
- Hormonal framework,
whether it occurs to you during your teenage years or in adulthood.
I do not get those severe, protruding, painful & pus-filled pimples all over my face anymore, which was part of my daily life between 13 to 21 years of age. I had almost made peace with it after giving up on every ‘solution’ that came my way. This is typically the TEENAGE ACNE.
Usually, this pattern could consist of blackheads, whiteheads, painful cysts mostly concentrated on your face (cheeks, nose, forehead), and also across the chest & back.
Androgens increase both in males & females around puberty; therefore, both the sexes experience almost incontrollable outbreaks for the next few years until they turn 18 or 19.
Teenage acne is often hereditary, besides stemming from a bit of lifestyle influence as well.
Well, the good news is, this kind of acne does clear up normally after a few years, even if you leave it untreated all the while. Well, not ‘popping’ it makes that easy. Bursting pimples, otherwise, can leave you with pits & permanent scars! I have one such pit, that is unfortunately visible in broad sunlight albeit tiny. 🙁
I personally suffered from a really aggravated form of acne between 12 to 21 years of age, for which I sought dermatological help as well.
Whiteheads are also faced by a lot of people across various age groups.
A whitehead is basically a bump that occurs above an inflamed spot on the skin where a pore gets clogged with oil, dead skin cells & bacteria.
A lot of us develop blackheads in life; those particularly, on the nose.
A blackhead is formed, just like a whitehead, when a pore gets clogged with oil, bacteria & dead skin cells. However, the pore remains open & the trapped oil gets oxidized & hence the black appearance.
In short, a whitehead is an inflamed CLOSED PORE & a blackhead is an inflamed OPEN PORE.
Usually large, pus-filled & painful pimples that keep recurring frequently are termed as Cystic Acne.
If pricked or popped accidentally or with the nails or a tweezer (that you must NEVER do BTW!), they can stress the surrounding pores & spread the infection like crazy. And that can potentially lead to permanent crater-like appearance on the part or pits & unsightly permanent scars, even after they go away.
Now, let’s dive into the acne myths we’ve all been made to believe as true.
Acne Myth 1: ACNE is just a TEENAGE problem
NO. It isn’t.
This statement is true and valid for a lot of adolescents facing pimples from the age of 11 onwards, lasting for about 6-7 years.
However, it does NOT mean that acne will vanish FOREVER after you turn 19 or 20. But, it’s very likely that it will NOT be as bad when you face pimples occasionally in your life later on, provided you follow a normal diet & active lifestyle.
I still get a zit or two when I’m menstruating, have chocolate other than dark chocolate, cakes from the bakery (oh well, that precisely inspired me to quit refined sugar last year) & upon using Brazilian wax for my upper lip hair removal.
In adults, acne is very oft the result of such triggers, hormonal issues, family history, diabetes, PCOS, dehydration, sleep-deprivation or similar concerns.
Besides, many babies can also have unexplained acne for a brief period of months, which normally subsides on its own without medication. And thus, pediatricians generally ask you not to worry about that.
Acne Myth 2: Eating Oily food causes Acne
This has been gold among the very misleading acne myths of all time!
Well, oily, deep-fried foods & snacks that literally dribble oil are never good for your health. They’re empty calories, high on saturated fat and will only contribute to adding more fat to your diet, which would ultimately get stored in your abdomen. A diet habitual of frequent feasting on oily food SURELY puts you at high risk of hypertension & arterial blocks/arteriosclerosis.
However, there is little evidence that consumption of greasy food is directly linked to causing acne breakouts. But, foods high on glycemic index (GI) have been shown to be responsible in causing sudden acne flares. High GI items include those high in simple carbs such as refined breads, flours, donuts, ice-creams etc.
On the other hand, as per a credible research, consuming non-organic dairy or antibiotic-affected dairy has been found to play a role in causing acne breakouts. Well, in my case, I find both of them to be sufficiently valid. I face sudden breakouts whenever I have white chocolate, a regular chocolate or basically any dessert made with copious amounts of milk & sugar.
Here’s one picture of me clicked when I had a breakout after bingeing on lots of white chocolate when I craved dark chocolate but ran out of it & just let myself go! The other one is how I look on usual days! 🙂
Since I’m also prone to gaining weight rapidly in the absence of regular exercise or redundant indulgence in the above foods, such weight-gain also triggers my acne.
So, KNOW WHAT TRIGGERS YOUR ACNE.
Acne Myth 3: Washing your face frequently with soap reduces Acne
No, No & NO!
I’ve heard enough of this advice & I just want to say, “Cut the Crap!” Because, it doesn’t work beyond washing your face with soap TWICE a day. This has to be, hands down, one of the most annoying acne myths you hear.
Acne isn’t always caused by oily skin. I used to have oily cheeks & forehead during my teenage but now I have the driest of skin. And I’m still not immune to breakouts with the above-mentioned trigger factors.
To control acne to some extent, what works is EXFOLIATION & not frequent SCRUBBING or soap-washing. In fact, too much soap can steal moisture away from the skin, therefore, making it more dry, irritated & acne-prone.
Let me tell you this. Although it is highly recommended that you do not unnecessarily touch your face with hands that may be unclean, sleep on pillow covers that haven’t been washed for more than a week, etc, ACNE IS NOT A HYGIENE PROBLEM. Period.
Nevertheless, IF YOU HAVE ACNE, make sure to USE ONLY NON-COMEDOGENIC skin & hair products. Non-comedogenic products do not clog the pores on your skin, which may lead to pimples and breakouts.
I personally use the Neutrogena oil-free moisturizer for my skin & the Neutrogena T/Gel anti-dandruff shampoo, which works well for my extremely oily, dandruff-prone scalp. I’ve been using both of these for over 3 years & I’m just happy about it.
Acne Myth 4: Staying in sunlight for longer hours cures Acne
This is. perhaps, one of the biggest acne myths I’ve
Sunlight is definitely the best source for FREE Vitamin D for all of us. Apart from that, moderate exposure to sunlight, specially during the mornings, is indeed beneficial for your overall physical & mental wellness. I mean, who is really fond of cloudy & glum days?
But, according to research, excessive exposure to UV rays of sunlight could possibly irritate the skin further worsening acne.
Acne Myth 4: Do not EXERCISE vigorously, because SWEAT makes Acne worse.
Sweat does NOT make acne worse not does it cause Acne.
“But acne happens when my pores get clogged, right? And doesn’t sweat clog my pores?”, you ask. Don’t you?
Sweat is actually an anti-bacterial body fluid, regardless of how it makes you stink. But, you do risk yourself at acne with sweat when:
- you wipe your sweat off with your hands.
- your scalp is either oily or you’re working out with oiled hair or have mousse applied on it.
- your sweatband is dirty
In these cases, the sweat that releases from your scalp does manage to trickle down on your face along with the oil content & block your pores.
Hence, make sure you wash your face well before starting your exercise. Keep your hair tied back & after that, wipe your face with a clean but slightly damp face towel, if you don’t have access to water & soap.
Acne Myth 5: Makeup causes Acne
Honestly, nowadays the basic cosmetic products such as compact powder, foundation, primer or eye shadow are not oil-based, which actually are responsible for triggering acne.
So, based on your skin type, choose your makeup products & do try first with a PATCH TEST on the hand to establish its safety for you.
You may also want to know how to deal with facial hair removal if you’re prone to acne.
To sum it up, I would only want to tell you that if you have acne, DON’T WORRY or pay heed to these acne myths. I know it can be distressing but hey, it’s not gonna stay with you forever as long as you take good care of your fitness & digestive health which plays an important role in controlling & curing acne.
DISCLAIMER – This post contains affiliate links to fitness products that I have bought myself. This means if you make a purchase through these, I earn a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. If you do, I’m all thanks! I have put forward my personal & honest reviews about them, and never recommend products that I myself never familiarized with. For more information, read my full disclosure.
Do you also suffer from acne? Have you come across any of these acne myths or those besides mentioned here? Let me know in the comments.
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