Acne rarely shows up alone. It brings with it an array of emotions, be it frustration, anger, confusion, or the rush of anxiety that pushes us to look for quick fixes. Unfortunately, in the quest to find a solution that is fast and easy, we end up listening to advice we definitely shouldn’t pay heed to.
And here’s the tricky part - when it comes to acne, there is an abundance of misinformation out there. More often than not, these tips and tricks have no scientific backing, and yet we are bombarded with them from all directions, be it well-meaning family and friends or even the internet.
However, some of these suggestions can do more harm than good to your skin, so it’s crucial to be aware of what information is factually accurate and what is merely a myth.
Here are 6 such acne myths that we need to stop believing right away!
- Only teenagers get acne
Although acne most commonly appears in adolescents, people in their 20s, 30s or even 40s may experience breakouts. For adults, acne can be categorized into subtypes - persistent acne, which is essentially a continuation of the skin phase from teenage years, and late-onset acne, which begins after the age of 25 years.
- Acne is contagious
Acne is not a contagious condition and thus cannot spread from one person to another. While bacteria play a role in the development of acne, unlike other bacterial infections, it cannot be transmitted. However, to maintain hygiene, it’s still best not to share products that come into contact with the skin regularly.
- Acne is caused by dirt
As far as acne is concerned, there are multiple factors at play, including excess sebum production, build-up of skin cells, and overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria that leads to inflammation that forms acne. So while dirt may have something to do with your pores getting clogged, it is pretty unlikely to be the only variable in the whole equation.
On the contrary, washing your face too often may strip your skin of its essential oils and actually disrupt your skin barrier, allowing in external stressors that induce and aggravate inflammation on the skin.
- Daily exfoliation helps reduce acne
Many people are under the misconception that if they exfoliate their skin every day, it will help polish away those persistent pimples instantly for new smooth skin cells to resurface. Unfortunately, exfoliation doesn’t work like that.
While they help remove dead cells and unclog pores, the resulting improvement in acne takes time to show up. In fact, if one exfoliates too frequently, it can cause further irritation and damage the skin barrier. A moderate approach is best for skin exfoliation as it yields long-term results.
- You can use toothpaste as a spot treatment
This is one of those myths that too many people have fallen victim to. The fact of the matter is that toothpaste contains ingredients like baking soda, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, menthol, and triclosan - essentially elements that can make the skin extremely dry and, in worse cases, cause irritation and rash. This hack can be especially harmful to those with sensitive skin.
- Pores can open and close
You’ve probably heard about the use of hot water steam to open pores and then close them with cold water. This practice, however, has no evidence proving its efficacy because biologically, your pores cannot open and close.
Your genetics determine your pore size, with oily pores usually appearing larger, while dryer and clearer pores appear smaller. What steam actually does is loosen up all the oil and debris hiding within the pores, making it easier to extract it.
We understand that an acne journey comes with its ups and downs, but that makes it even more important to treat one’s skin with extra care and kindness. Your best bet here is to adopt skincare and lifestyle practices that are scientifically proven to help your acne make progress.
But instead of believing everything we hear and read, let’s make sure we take charge and educate ourselves on our acne, finding the right way to treat our skin so that our acne gets the gentle healing it deserves.