There is a lot of information (and misinformation) about acne. The local market is also full of products that promise a miracle cure for acne. This includes creams, ointments, herbal drinks and homemade solutions. It is important that we separate facts from fiction. This will help you make the best decisions on how to manage your skin.
Myth: Acne only affects teenagers
It is true that acne occurs mostly in teenagers, but it can affect adults as well. Up to 20 per cent of adults above the age of 30 are still dealing with acne. More women than men tend to have adult acne ( which is mostly related to hormonal fluctuations).
Myth: Washing your face more often helps get rid of acne
Facial acne is not caused by dirt. Washing the skin too often does not reduce acne. It actually dries up and irritates the skin. The rebound effect of drying your skin is that the oil glands become overactive and produce too much oil, which can worsen acne. It is best to wash the face twice daily (at most). This helps reduce bacteria, remove surface oil and help exfoliate dead skin cells. Do not use strong alcohol-based cleansers to clean your skin as they can dry it out.
Myth: Moisturising causes acne
Although, acne-prone skin tends to be oily, you should not avoid moisturising it. If you fail to moisturise the skin, it increases its production of oil to prevent the dryness.
Apply a light moisturiser after washing it. Avoid heavy creams and petroleum jelly.
Myth: Hair products are not associated with acne
When oils from hair products and hair sprays are in constant contact with the forehead, they exacerbate the acne. To prevent this, avoid hairstyles that let the hair lie constantly on the forehead and use water-based hair products as opposed to oil-based ones.
Myth: It is okay to squeeze out pimples
Never pick at pimples. Squeezing leads to inflammation and scaring. Always allow pimples to run their course. (To help reduce the duration, you can use skin products with either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid).
Myth: You cannot wear make-up if you have acne
The market currently has make-up designed specifically for people with acne. They are labelled ‘non-comedogenic’ and can safely be used on acne prone skin. There are variations between brands and you will need to test and see which brand works best for you.
Myth: Scent-free petroleum jelly is best for acne
Whilst scent-free petroleum jelly is good for dry skin, it is not good for acne prone skin. There are products designed specifically for acne prone skin. These products have benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria or salicylic acid to help loosen dead skin cells and reduce swelling and inflammation or retinol. However, products that have higher percentages of these ingredients are not necessarily better than the milder ones. If you are not sure about what product to use, consult a dermatologist.
Myth: The sun helps clears up acne
Over-exposure to sunlight can dry out the skin, irritate acne prone skin, and lead to long-term damage. In addition, most acne skin products can make you more susceptible to sun damage. If you need to be in the sun for long hours, look for skin products that contain sunscreen.
Myth: Sex and masturbation cause acne
This is a common myth amongst high school students. It was a notion originating centuries ago as a way to dissuade young people from having sex before marriage and masturbating (this was deemed a culturally inappropriate). There is no scientific evidence to support it.
Myth: Eating French fries worsens acne
Whilst it is important to eat healthily, there is no evidence to prove that eating chips or other oily foods worsens acne. The oil in these foods will not move from the intestines to the face.
Myth: Toothpaste can treat acne
Most people believe that toothpaste is effective in treating acne. Yes, it can cause dryness, but it does not treat the underlying problem. In addition, the active ingredients in the toothpaste can irritate the skin leading to inflammation and redness.
Acne is a complex health issue
Acne does not develop overnight. It actually takes weeks for a pimple to become visible. Usually, dead skin cells and oil clog the skin pores. This is followed by overgrowth of bacteria in the pores. This bacterial overgrowth leads to inflammation and the development of an obvious acne pimple. This means that you cannot treat it overnight. Get a good skin regimen and seek help from a dermatologist if you are unsure how to manage acne. Poorly managed acne can lead to lifelong scars.