Myth or Fact?

Myth: You’ll eventually outgrow acne

pimplesFact: If only that were true, lots of people’s skincare struggles in life would have been very different. In fact, women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and even 50s can have acne just like teenagers, and the treatment principles remain the same.

Not everyone who has acne as a teenager will grow out of it, and even if you had clear skin as a teenager, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get acne later in life, perhaps during menopause You can blame this often-maddening inconsistency on hormones! What is true is that men can outgrow acne, because after puberty men’s hormone levels level out, while women’s hormone levels fluctuate throughout their lifetime, which is why many women experience breakouts around their menstrual cycle What about the association between acne and food, stress, and over-cleaning your face?

There are actually lots of myths about acne; following are among the most common:

Myth: Acne is caused by eating the wrong foods.

Fact: This is both true and false. The traditional foods thought to cause acne, such as chocolate and greasy foods, have no effect on acne, and there is no research indicating otherwise.

The sugar connection rears its ugly head again, as research has shown those who regularly consume a high glycemic diet (high in sugar and/or simple carbohydrates) seem to develop acne in greater ratios than those who consume a low glycemic diet. However, just as with chocolate, fried foods, and dairy, this is not a cause of acne so much as it is possibly a supporting factor; for example, lots of dairy foods such as yogurt and ice cream are loaded with inflammation-triggering sugar (Nutrients, 2010).

Studies have found a connection between the consumption of milk and exacerbation of acne. However, the majority of the research demonstrates that the of naturally occurring hormones in milk affects the balance of acne-causing androgens (male hormones) in our bodies, which makes dairy perhaps the strongest of dietary factors that can influence breakouts, for some (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2005 and2008).

Myth: If you clean your face better you can clear up your acne.

Fact: Over-cleaning or scrubbing your face can actually make matters worse.

Acne is caused primarily by hormonal fluctuations that affect the oil gland, creating an environment where acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) can flourish. Don’t confuse scrubbing or “deep cleaning” with helping acne, because it absolutely doesn’t. Over-cleansing your face triggers inflammation that actually makes acne worse.

Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and more acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009 andDermato-Endocrinology, 2011).

What really helps breakouts is using a gentle cleanser so you don’t damage your skin’s outer barrier or create inflammation (both of which hinder your skin’s ability to heal and fight bacteria) and using gentle exfoliation. An effective exfoliating product that contains salicylic acid or glycolic acid can make all the difference in reducing acne and the red marks it leaves behind (American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2012).

Myth: Stress causes acne.

Fact: Generally, it is believed that stress can trigger acne, but no one is exactly sure how that works, and there is conflicting research.

While it never hurts to reduce angst and worry in your life, stress as a causative factor for acne is hard to pinpoint. Plus, the way to treat acne doesn’t change because of the stressors in your life (British Journal of Dermatology, 2015 and Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 2007).