There are an abundance of Acne Myths, including things like stress, diet, hygiene, sunlight, and what happens if you don’t pop a pimple. Don’t feel bad if you thought the same, Acne Myths and facts stump even medical professionals. Most everyone has dealt with acne, an unwanted pimple as some point in their lives. It always seems to happen the night before a date, job interview, or year book pictures. Not all of these are substantiated in the scientific literature. We are going to discuss a few of these Acne Myths in the next few paragraphs. Get ready to have your day changed!
A study conducted with medical providers in Australia showed that many doctors and nurses thought that sunlight was beneficial for acne, while another targeted at medical students found that most believed that stress, facial hygiene, and diet played key roles in acne flares. One of the most interesting facts about acne is that none of these popularly-held assumptions are verified in the literature.1)Magin P, Pond D, Smith W, Watson A. A systematic review of the evidence for ‘myths and misconceptions’ in acne management: diet, face-washing and sunlight. Fam Pract. 2005;22(1):62-70. The next few paragraphs talk about numerous scientific studies that have tried to answer these questions, what they found, and how it can help you get better looking skin.
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One of the most common Acne Myths is that sugar and thing like chocolate can increase acne. Who does not like chocolate? There have been multiple studies asking the question of whether eating chocolate worsens acne and none found that it did. These studies had drawbacks, though, which included small sample sizes, and inadequate follow up (both important factors for a scientific study). This does not mean that you can binge on fatty foods without consequences, because acne in 20s and acne in 30s has been found to behave differently where diet and weight are concerned. One study of 2270 participants found that weight was not a contributing factor occurrence in age ranging from 15-19, while in ages 20-40 it was. What this means is that older age groups cannot entirely disregard diet where acne is concerned. If you want more on how to make your skin look younger check out 4 Antioxidants for Younger Looking Skin. Moreover, while chocolate might not worsen your acne, eating poorly can potentially increase it. This just reinforces the importance of eating well, and being responsible for your health.
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The next of the Acne Myths regards diet in general. Does what you eat affect how likely you are to get a pimple, or even full-blown acne? In short, sometimes. An interesting study looking at acne in two countries with non-westernized diets (New Guinea and Paraguay) found that there is a far lower prevalence of acne than in western populations. This is hypothesized to be related to the high glycemic index in western meals. High carbohydrates cause hyperinsulinemia (i.e. high insulin levels) which can cause hormonal imbalances. High insulin levels are also seen in diseases like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which also has acne as one of its symptoms. So what this means is diets with high carbohydrate percentages (like fast food for example) can increase acne.
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There have been numerous studies on the effects of sunlight on mild to moderate acne but they have had mixed results. Some have found positive benefits with sunlight exposure (namely UVA + UVB in set doses) but the statistics behind most of the studies were not adequate to firmly recommend sunlight as a treatment for acne. While it may provide valuable Vitamin D, only 10-15 minutes of sunlight each day is needed for this. Given the significant risks for skin cancer–especially in fairer-skinned populations—it is not recommended to use direct sunlight to treat acne. If you are concerned about possibly having skin cancer yourself, then check out 5 ways to tell if you have skin cancer in 2017 for some useful guidelines for what to look for.
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Overall, it is important to understand what causes acne in most people, and what is best for treating it. Causes of acne are mainly from increased androgens (which are higher in puberty), follicular obstruction, and infection with bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes). That is why the most successful acne medications dermatologists prescribe for most types of acne target these factors. For example, androgens increased in puberty and in menstrual-related acne are treated with spironolactone (an ant-androgen medication). Follicle obstruction is corrected with keratolytic medications (Vitamin A derivatives like tretinoin and adapalene, as well as benzoyl peroxide). Infections with P. acnes are treated with topical antibiotics like clindamycin or oral antibiotics like doxycycline, and helped synergistically with benzoyl peroxide. These form the core for how dermatologists fight acne on a daily basis.
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|1.||↑||Magin P, Pond D, Smith W, Watson A. A systematic review of the evidence for ‘myths and misconceptions’ in acne management: diet, face-washing and sunlight. Fam Pract. 2005;22(1):62-70.|