Sunday 26 May 2013

Acne Myths Busted: Most common myths surrounding acne and scientific explanation to refute them

Acne or popular term like 'pimples'or' zits' affects 80%of people at-least once in a lifetime. Though it is  very common but still the information about it is very scarce. In this blog I will share with you the six most common myths around acne and offer a scientific explanation to refute them.

Myth 1 :  Adults don't get acne . I never had it when I was in teenage then why now?
Not True. A  lot of people (around 14%) develop acne after 25 years ( Acne Tarda or late onset acne). Teenage acne presents mostly with blackheads or whiteheads scattered all over forehead and rest of the face whereas it is more of reddish nodules around  mouth and jaw in Acne Tarda.

Myth 2:  You get acne when you don't wash your face enough
Not at all. Washing your face more than twice a day is not helpful but can harm one more by disturbing the ph of the skin. It is not build up of dirt that leads to blackheads and the black color is because of oxidized skin debris and melanin and not dirt.
Never squeeze your acne

Myth 3: Eating chocolate and so called 'hot foods' ( Indian concept) provoke acne
The diet controversy still looms large. As a matter of fact , few studies show AGGRAVATION of acne with high glycemic index foods like junk , high carb diet and few dairy items.But they definitely Do not cause acne and may be innocent bystanders in the process.

Myth 4: Acne is just a cosmetic problem, it shall go away on its ownAcne does resolve on its own even without treatment but untreated acne can scat one's face and psyche for a life time. So as soon as you see them appearing, please rush to your dermatologist . Prevention is better than cure which is not so complete for Acne Scarring.

Myth 5 : I get it treated but still it comes back , Will it never go back?Acne is chronic in nature and certain skin has a propensity to have it more but as the oil producing glands shrink with age so does acne too. It is good to start a treatment for control but even better if you  continue to apply a maintenance therapy to prevent breakouts.

Myth 6: Clean up or steaming or may be squeezing them out will unclog my pores and helpThis is actually the worst thing you can do. Picking on acne can lead to deep scars. Popular clean ups will only make it worse while steaming only dehydrates the skin further. Making your face sweat more does not affect acne problem at all. You can ask for chemical peels from your Dermatologist which can help a great deal of patients in refractory acne and scarring as well.

Do post your queries and questions as we all delve deep into this common but commonly misunderstood enemy called 'Acne'. I will be dealing with more questions in my next blog on acne and acne scarring.

Dr Divya Sharma is a practicing dermatologist at Bangalore. The data shared in this blog is her personal opinion based on her knowledge and experience. The author is not responsible for any adverse event that arises out of following blog opinion


  1. Too helpful. But why these acne develop around our face and not on the other parts of our body?

  2. Acne involves the oil producing glands which are maximum in number on the face followed by back and chest. Some variants of Acne can involve only back and chest also but they are rare.

  3. I find that eating cheese has an affect on my skin, although it only seems to be the stronger type. I used to love cheese but now I have to moderate myself by eating the lower strength option.

  4. Hi Paul
    I appreciate your observation about the relationship between cheese intake and flaring up of pimples.Recent research has shown that Cheese and other dairy items increase the serum levels of insulin and Insulin Growth Factor-1 which increase the activity of the oil producing ( sebaceous) glands. Milk and related products are believed to increase the triglyceride content of the skin fatty acids making skin more acne prone. This should possibly explain your observed association between cheese and acne. You can read an interesting research article on this subject at the following link : J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52(2):207-14.

  5. Geat tips, Dr. Divya! I like it! What can you say about back and chest acne? Are these types of acne the same as a face acne? How can I treat them? It's hard to clean my back by myself. I usually make a shower for once a day.

  6. Hi Kim
    Its encouraging to know that you liked it . The oil producing glands (sebaceous glands) are maximum on the face followed by chest and back and hence the same mechanism causes acne on the chest and back too. Involvement of back and chest requires oral medication as it comes under severe form and also they are inaccessible for applying medication. You will have to consult a Dermatologist to start with a suitable oral medicine depending on the types of lesions and your body weight. The oral medication' options are safe and can be discontinued after control. Taking shower more than once will not help and is not required. Hope you find this useful.
    Best Wishes
    Dr Divya Sharma

  7. I found this website to be very helpful with my acne, and led me to a great product that over time got rid of all my acne.

  8. Thank you. I sincerely wish that people should believe in scientific explanation than hearsay and become wiser about this condition.
    Best Wishes
    Dr. Divya Sharma

  9. Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... Dermatologia


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