I am not shy in admitting that I enjoy treating acne. There is nothing more satisfying than feeling fresh faced and confident to start the day, and I believe anyone can accomplish clear skin with the appropriate regimen in place. In treating my patients, I hear many myths that make understanding acne and how we can heal it difficult. I’d love to clear up some of the most common acne myths.
Myth #1: Poor hygiene causes acne
Acne tops the list as the most common dermatological disease for which patients seek treatment. Most of my patients come with carefully constructed regimens already in use. Yes, washing twice daily is vital to maintaining clear skin, but the root of acne goes much deeper than cleaning off dirt, oil, and bacteria. We find that most forms of acne have a genetic or hormonal influence that stirs up inflammation within the skin.
Myth #2: Avoid greasy foods
Fatty and greasy foods are actually not the reason we get new breakouts, contrary to old beliefs. In fact, new studies suggest that skim milk, chocolate, and high glycemic foods (Think: white pasta, sodas, candy) can really be the foods to blame for flare ups!
Myth #3: Tanning will help acne
Now of course we need to debunk this myth! Although certain wavelengths of light can be therapeutic for inflammatory acne, tanning beds or laying out are not. The large majority of radiation our skin receives from the sun and tanning beds is UVA which does NOT help acne. Rather, UVA is responsible for photoaging with brown spots and wrinkles and also can cause skin cancer. Believe me, an attempt to settle that cystic pimple with a tan won’t be worth the trade off for a skin cancer scar 10 years from now! Broad spectrum sunscreen is key to any acne regimen to protect the investment you are making now. Check out my favorite for acne-prone skin – Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46. We do also offer safe phototherapy treatments through our office that can calm acne.
Myth #4: It has worked in the past so it always will
As many of you can attest, acne can evolve and so must our treatment plans. In addition, some medications are not safe or intended for long term use. Others simply don’t work well if not balanced by other ingredients. Successfully treating your acne can be an art. Let us help you navigate!
Myth #5: It’s just a phase
Unfortunately, many times it is not. Remember how I mentioned that many forms of acne are genetic or hormonal? These cases can be the most stubborn, painful and threatening for scarring potential. The best time to treat acne is when it starts, whether as a pre-teen or adult. We realize that acne is not just an aesthetic issue. It can be a deeply emotional condition as well, affecting your self confidence, behavior, daily habits, and pocketbook. We take that very seriously.
Oh, and as a reminder… Don’t squeeze it! Leave that for the professionals.
Jessie Holland, PA-C, MPAS