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Acne Myths Q&A

Acne is the most common skin disease by a large margin, and account for the majority of the concerns that dermatologists answer at their office. Although acne is near universal, many myths abound, ranging from half truths to the absurd. Below are the facts about popular acne myths.

1. Acne is caused by poor hygiene

While keeping a clean skin is important, acne is not caused by poor hygiene. This myth likely originated as a result of blackheads, which can resemble dirt embedded in the skin. In reality, the dirt-like color is the result of oxidized sebum, and not dirt.

Excessive cleansing is a common reaction to blackheads, but this practice will not help acne. In fact, it will very likely aggravate by making your inflammation worse, and dry out the skin. While cleansing is important, one should limit cleansing to once a day, using a mild cleanser. Again, acne is NOT caused by dirt.

2. Acne is caused by sexual activity

Acne is caused in part by hormonal factors such as androgen, which are produced in larger quantities during puberty. These changes lead to the development of sexual features, and this association is likely to have played a part in the creation of this myth. Sexual activity itself is completely unrelated to acne.

3. Eating chocolates cause acne

This is also a long standing myth, which, so far, has no basis in any controlled acne studies. The connection between foods and acne has been studied for some time, but so far there seems to be little evidence that points to a causal relationship. However, this myth may still have some basis in reality; direct causality is very difficult to prove in a controlled study with a small sample size as there is great individual variability in acne, and there are many other factors that need to be controlled. If you notice a clear connection between certain foods and acne, give this some credence and avoid the food as much as possible.

4. Tanning eliminates acne

Tanning will not help eliminate acne at all. While darker skin may make the redness in the pimples less noticeable, it does not help you clear acne. In fact, the sun's UV rays are more likely to aggravate the inflammation, causing dryness and irritation. Tanning is also dangerous—it causes premature wrinkling and increases the chances of developing other serious problems like skin cancer.

5. Cosmetics cause acne

Cosmetics do not directly cause acne. It is, however, true that many greasy cosmetic products can have the effect of plugging the pores, which does exacerbate the problem. Choose products that are labelled non-comedogenic, as they are less likely to cause acne. Finally, remember to remove any make-up before hitting the bed, as cosmetic products should not be left on the skin for longer than necessary.

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