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Acne…just like anything else that has been around for hundreds of years is steeped in myths and old wives tales as to its cause and best cure.

Fortunately for us, the advances in scientific research into acne are gradually clearing up many of the misconceptions surrounding this condition and its treatment, but there are still a few myths that persist.

Dispelling myths about acne

Myth #1 – Poor hygiene causes acne. This idea may have arisen because of the skin infections associated with acne. It is well known that lack of cleanliness is not the reason for outbreaks of acne. What happens is the mixture of sebum and dead cells, which cause the acne, is situated beneath the surface of the skin where it is almost impossible to clean it away. By gently cleansing the face and neck areas with soap and water twice a day will keep the skin as healthy as possible. It is important not to scrub too hard as this may make your acne condition worse.

Myth #2 – Acne can be caused by certain foods. I’m sure you have all heard that eating chocolate will cause an outbreak of pimples. Actually, there is no scientific evidence for this – studies have shown no significant relationship between eating chocolate and developing acne. The same is true for other foods such as French fries and sugar loaded treats – although I’m sure you are aware of the other associated problems with these types of foods so limiting your intake is always best for your general health.

Now that we have killed the chocolate and chips myth there are some foods that do seem to aggravate the condition. There appears to be a relationship between milk and acne, and foods high in iodine are also known to cause pimples. Iodine is found in seafood, so those with acne may be best advised to go easy here.

Myth #3 – Acne and sex. On numerous occasions you may have heard that masturbation or celibacy causes pimples (I’d hate to think where this one started). Well, you can be assured there is no real evidence for this old wives tale. However, there is a link between sexual activity and hormone production, but the relationship between sex and the production of sebum (the oily substance which combines with dead skin cells to cause the acne) is unclear at this stage. It may also be handy to know that anger and stress also affect hormone levels. So stay calm.

Common misconceptions about acne vulgaris

These days there are many good over the counter treatments available to help prevent acne so you don’t have to put up with the discomfort and embarrassment that acne can cause. But take heed, if your condition doesn’t improve consult your local doctor or with a dermatologist. You don’t want to end up having nasty acne scars for the rest of your life.

Myth #5 – Acne is something only teenagers get. Not true! Although it is true that most adolescents have acne at some time, but it can also affect some adults. Acne usually clears up by time you get to your 20s, but unfortunately some people experience acne for the first time when they are in their 30s or 40s.

Myth #6 – Acne only affects your appearance. Acne is a skin condition which can also cause quite extreme psychological distress.

Myth #7 – Popping or squeezing pimples is the best way to get rid of them. The truth is, popping pimples will more than likely aggravate acne by spreading the bacteria which is causing it. Popping zits and blackheads can also lead to scarring and in severe cases can leave permanent skin damage.

Myth #8 – Sunbathing is good for your acne. This comes from the reality that exposure to the sun has the effect of drying out excess oils in the skin, so it does have a short-term effect of improving acne. But, the skin quickly becomes accustomed to sun exposure so no long-term benefit is gained. In fact, over exposure to the sun can damage the skin and greatly increase the risk of skin cancer.

Myth #9 – Makeup causes acne. There are some makeup products that can clog the pores which is bad for the health of facial skin.

Myth #10 – Acne creams and medications – the more the better. There are some people who have the mistaken belief that if their acne problem worsens then they should use more medication. The excessive use of acne creams or ointments may irritate the skin, and oral medicines can be quite dangerous when taken in large quantities. So you can see it is always very important to follow the makers’ directions for any acne medications.