Acne: separating fact from fiction



You woke up this morning and there it was: a pimple. How did it get there, and even more importantly, how do you prevent it from getting worse? Of course your friends will bombard you with ‘helpful hints’ to help you deal with your pimple but unfortunately there are just as many myths doing the rounds out there as there are truths.

Here are some acne facts on what makes acne worse and what doesn’t, to help you make an educated distinction between medical facts and fiction.

First, let’s dispel some of the myths:

Fiction: Eating chocolate or greasy foods causes acne.


The good news for all chocoholics is that there is little evidence to suggest that chocolate or greasy foods have any effect on the development and course of acne in most people.


Fiction: Stress causes acne.

Stress in itself does not cause pimples, but in people who do have acne, stress can make it worse.


Fiction: Dirty skin causes acne.

Contrary to what some people think, blackheads and other pimples are not caused by dirty skin. In fact, washing your face with commonly used soaps and hard scrubbing can make acne worse. Gentle cleansing twice a day with warm water and acne face wash is recommended by dermatologists.


Fiction: Sunlight improves acne

There is no convincing evidence that standing or sitting in the sun can make pimples better and one should be mindful of the possible harmful effects of sun exposure, such as skin cancer.


Facts about acne:

Fact: Squeezing or picking at pimples can make it worse.

Do not pop a pimple. Squeezing or picking at pimples makes it worse.


Fact: Tight-fitting sports gear and backpacks can trigger pimples.

Tight-fitting clothes or sports helmets can trigger a pimple outbreak. Acne affects the face, chest and back so it is important to avoid tight-fitting equipment in these three areas. A tight-fitting backpack can also worsen a pimple outbreak.


Fact: Oil in skin products and make-up is an acne trigger.

Some make-up cosmetics or moisturisers are very oily and can cause a ‘plug’ and trigger a pimple outbreak if used regularly.


Fact: Humidity can trigger an acne outbreak.

Pollution and high humidity may trigger or worsen a pimple outbreak.


Fact: Hormones during puberty are acne triggers – but this is something that is out of your control. You can’t control the hormonal changes that you have to go through when you hit puberty. Unfortunately, these hormonal changes can cause pimples. You can’t choose when your hormones kick into full gear but you can choose to take care of your skin.


References available on request


Written by Lauren Espach
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