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5 Acne Myths Revealed

Acne can be frustrating enough without everybody offering their own two cents worth on where it comes from and how to get rid of it. With appearance playing a very high role in our lives, we don’t have the time to let a little red dot ruin our day. However, sifting through the fiction about acne can be a great comfort, especially because where acne comes from will hold the greatest clues on how to cure it. Here are the main ways we can get acne, and different myths surrounding their cures:

Genetics:

It can run in the family. If a parent has or had severe acne, it is very likely that a child and all their siblings will have it too. However, this doesn’t mean the inheritor should just give up; even the most severe acne is treatable. Nature can be overcome by nurture if you take care of your skin. Your yearbook pictures don’t need to look like your parents’.

Hormones:

Testosterone. Both guys and girls get more testosterone during adolescence. Of course there is a lot more produced in males, but females are less used to it, and so both genders are acne-prone in their teens. This can last into adulthood. The ladies get the lucky break in this one: birth control and pregnancy can help moderate hormone levels and prevent acne in most females. This is not true for all women, so they should find out what works best for them. Some women may react worse to hormonal changes. Some report only breaking out during menstruation or pregnancy, especially if carrying a boy. On the other hand, about all men can to affect acne via hormones is to make it worse via steroids and other growth hormones.

Stress:

Don’t Panic. Studies have shown definite correlation between stress and acne. Stress raises blood pressure which in turn can cause breakouts. And getting a blemish at the wrong time (is there ever a right time?) can promote more stress creating a very bad positive-feedback loop. It is important to get enough sleep and to manage anxiety, especially during the teen-years where insecurity is already so rampant.

Bacteria:

P. acnes. The name says it all: Propionibacterium acnes lives in your oil glands and spreads from pore to pore. It’s generally harmless alone, but along with related bugs (exp. Staphylococcus epidermidis) it will cause inflammation (that bright red-ness). This is why most acne treatments (with Benzoyl peroxide standing on the forefront) are anti-bacterial. They work to kill P. acnes under the skin. This however has perpetuated the myth that acne=a dirty face. While washing your face daily is very important hygienically and will prevent dangerous forms of acne, it doesn’t clean under the skin. Just because someone is breaking out, doesn’t mean they are “unclean”. They could be suffering from inherited acne or hormones, just like you.

Diet:

The biggest myth. It has long been debated whether or not diet plays a role in affecting acne. Studies have shown that foods with a super high glycemic index (how fast the carbs are absorbed into the blood) have similar effects on the body and skin as stress. Foods with fast carbs (a high glycemic index) are generally processed foods, raw sugars and white grains. However, though oily foods don’t really make acne worse, except in causing stress on the body if the oils are left to clog veins. And last, but not least: chocolate does not cause acne! Chocolate, especially the dark kind, is calming and full of anti-oxidants which will help the body all over. That being said, sugary and waxy chocolates have a high glycemic index and can increase your chances of a breakout.

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