6 Myths About Acne You Need To Be Aware Of

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Is there ever a good time to have pimples? Every teenager we’ve ever known would say an emphatic no. Not only do pimples and acne make you look and feel lousy, they always seem to show up at the worst times, such as before a big game, or the school dance, or an important interview.

Mason Gomberg, MD

If you’re concerned about your child’s pimples, or if he or she has developed stubborn acne that’s not responding to over-the-counter remedies, creams or face washes, see your pediatrician or a dermatologist for more aggressive treatments.

Also, be aware that acne in mid-childhood, prior to puberty, is not a normal occurrence and needs to be brought to the attention of your pediatrician.

What causes acne?

Contrary to popular belief, neither fatty foods (French fries, pizza) nor chocolate causes acne. Primarily, hormones (male androgens or related compounds) cause acne, which is why so many young people get pimples during puberty, or for girls, right before their period starts.

These hormones stimulate the glands in pores (on your face and sometimes your chest and back) to make more oil, which in turn can clog those pores. Whiteheads, blackheads and raised red bumps are all the results of clogged pores.

6 acne myths that just aren’t true

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we found the following 6 acne myths in a KidsHealth article and wanted to share them with you here. But besides this tips, to learn the truth about acne and the best ways to treat it, we recommend that you talk with a dermatologist or skin care specialist.

  1. Myth: Popping your pimples is the best way to get rid of them.

Fact: No! Many teens think that popping zits will make them less noticeable and help them heal faster, but this is not true. Your fingers and fingernails are often dirty, and picking at or popping your pimples pushes germs and bacteria further under your skin. This can cause more redness, pain, inflammation and maybe even an infection. Also, popping zits can lead to scarring.

  1. Myth: Stress causes acne.

Fact: The normal stress of being a teenager does not cause acne. If you’re going through an especially stressful period in your life—such as switching schools or dealing with your parents’ divorce or the death of a beloved pet—your skin may produce more oil (sebum), but that doesn’t mean you’ll get more pimples.

  1. Myth: Getting a tan clears up acne.

Fact: Baking in the sun does nothing to improve your acne. In fact, in many cases, getting excessive sun on your already-irritated face can actually make your acne worse. Our advice is to use a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 and that says “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic,” which means it won’t clog your pores and exacerbate your acne. And DO NOT visit tanning beds. This will not clear up your acne and may increase your risk of developing skin cancer. NOTE: Photodynamic therapy with UV-free blue light did not provide significant benefits in medical studies.

  1. Myth: You can get rid of acne by washing your face more.

Fact: Washing your face regularly is a good idea because it helps remove dead skin cells, excess oil and dirt from your skin’s surface. But over-washing or scrubbing your skin too vigorously can dry out and irritate your skin, which will only make your acne worse.

  1. Myth: If you want to avoid acne, don’t wear makeup.

Fact: Makeup does not give you acne. If you’re someone who likes to wear makeup, choose products labeled “oil-free,” “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic,” which means the product won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts. Some cosmetics even contain acne-fighting ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

  1. Myth: If you keep breaking out, using more medicine will cure your pimples.

Fact: False. Using too much acne medication can lead to dry, irritated skin. Whether you are applying over-the-counter remedies or using something prescribed by a doctor, be sure to follow the directions carefully. Using more than the recommended amount can cause troublesome and even dangerous side effects.

So what’s the best way to care for your skin?

As a general rule, gently wash your face A FEW TIMES PER DAY with mild soap. For mild acne, you can try an OTC product containing 5% benzoyl peroxide once per day. Washes or cleansers, as opposed to acne creams, are better for those with widespread acne or more sensitive skin. The amount of medicine applied should be the size of a pea for your facial area. If OTC products do not work, your pediatrician or dermatologist can prescribe topical creams or antibiotics, oral antibiotics and/or other oral medicines to improve your skin condition.

To learn more

For more information on acne treatment and skin care, you might find this article, Taking Care of Your Skin, helpful.

If you’re concerned about your pimples or acne, please come see us

If you have persistent pimples or acne that’s not responding to treatment, make an appointment with Westchester Health Pediatrics to see one of our pediatricians. We’ll examine your skin and together with you, choose the best treatment to clear up your pimples and start you on your way to a better complexion. If needed, we will refer you to a dermatologist for more aggressive treatment. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

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By Mason Gomberg, MD, a pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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About the Author: ML Ball