Acne is a skin condition that affects almost 10% of people in the world. It presents as blemishes or pimples on the skin. These lesions can be mild to severely inflamed. It can be caused by genetics, wrong products, hormones, or diet. Acne can cause hyperpigmentation or scarring, especially when scratched. While most people can be affected by scarring, Black people are more likely to get post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation permeates skincare circles online. Social media is especially responsible for spreading this misinformation about acne. There are plenty of misguided tutorials on how to deal with acne from using toothpaste-based gels to turmeric. There are plenty of effective ways to deal with acne, but you need to let go of some myths.
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1. Bad hygiene causes acne
The skin is home to a thriving microbiome. People who are prone to acne have specific strains of Cutibacterium acnes that cause inflammation. This doesn’t mean that having bad hygiene doesn’t lead to acne. Over-cleansing reduces oil production, this is more likely to lead to acne. It’s better to wash your face twice a day with products better suited to your skin type. People with oily and acne-prone skin should use foaming cleansers.
2. Acne stops after puberty
Hormonal changes during adolescence can cause acne. However, acne can happen at any age, including well into your 50s. It’s also more likely to occur in adult women than men. Studies show that women in their 40s can still experience hormonal acne. Pregnancy, menopause, and hormonal replacement therapy can also increase the risk.
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3. Diet is the biggest risk
There is no science to prove that diet is the main cause of acne. It happens under a multitude of factors. Protein doesn’t necessarily increase the risk of pimples. Sugary foods are more likely to cause acne but instead of cutting them entirely out of your diet, it’s better to limit your intake. Fatty foods are more likely to cause weight gain than acne. However, if you notice breakouts after eating certain foods, consult your dermatologist.
4. Drying out your skin gets rid of it
Some types of acne are caused by the build-up of sebum in the skin. However, you still need to moisturise your skin and ensure the barrier remains protected against infection and environmental factors. Using retinoids and exfoliating acids dries out your skin but this puts it at risk. Instead, use hydrating products, such as hyaluronic acid which doesn’t clog up the skin the way shea or cocoa butter would.
5. Makeup worsens acne
Use gel products rather than cream-based products. This helps reduce clogging and can be more comfortable to wear if you have acne. Ensure you take makeup off properly each night after wearing it. If you’re wearing both makeup and sunscreen, use a double cleansing.
Read also: 7 Makeup Mistakes That Cause Acne Breakouts
6. Acne isn’t genetic
Research shows that acne can be genetic. If your parent has acne, you’re more likely to inherit the skin condition. This is because you inherit the number, size, and activity of your oil glands from any of your biological parents. There is no hormonal influence until adolescence. Once they’re triggered it starts.
7. Skin care treats acne
Products like benzoyl peroxide can cleanse the skin of acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid is an exfoliate that cleanses pores and retinoids can reduce clogging. However, this is only the first step in treatment, and it only helps if it isn’t severe.
For more intense forms, you can use chemical peels, antibiotics, laser therapies or for some women, contraceptives. Your doctor can give you more effective options for treatment if over-the-counter products don’t make any changes after about six weeks.
8. Antibiotics are a cure
Antibiotics can help treat the presence of excess bacteria on the skin and inflammation. However, overuse of bacteria can affect your gut microbiome and increase antibiotic resistance. You can’t overuse antibiotics to treat a skin condition, especially when it’s likely to relapse. When you stop taking the medication, it’s likely to return and you can’t keep living on antibiotics.
9. Contraceptives are a cure
Contraceptives vary in their reactions to different patients. The combined contraception pill can help treat the skin condition. This is because it depletes the levels of androgens which increase the risk. The progesterone-only pill can worsen the condition because it enlarges oil glands. But again, it can relapse once you stop taking it.
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