Every day, we’re inundated with new information about acne. But the truth is, there is no single solution to dealing with acne, and there is no one clear cause. This may be harsh to hear, but it’s ultimately for the best. The sooner we accept acne’s complexity, the sooner we can find a custom solution to acne breakouts and blemishes that works for each of us.
To help end the spread of misinformation and get us back on the right track, we’re putting to rest the top three biggest acne myths that are doing little good in the fight against acne.
Myth 1: Pop Pimples/Let Pimples Run Their Course
To pop or not to pop, that was once the question. Some argue it’s safe to squeeze spots once a whitehead has formed and pain, redness, and inflammation have subsided. Others argue popping a pimple leads to more acne and risks scarring, contending it’s best to let the pimple run its course instead.
Both arguments are technically wrong: popping a pimple can lead to scarring, but leaving a pimple untreated will likely just lead to it popping on its own (i.e. when brushed against a pillow or during regular cleansing), which can also lead to scarring. Pimples need to be treated, but not popped. The best course of action is to wait for a whitehead to form, soften the area by gently pressing a hot, damp washcloth against it—but don’t pop the pimple!—then apply a spot treatment, preferably one recommended by a dermatologist, to the pimple. Reapply as needed to reduce the risk of acne scars.
Myth 2: Acne Is for Adolescents
This is one of the most damaging mythThe stigma surrounding acne as a problem faced only by adolescents can make it difficult for adults suffering from acne-related skin conditions to confidently seek out acne treatments safe for mature skin.
Not everyone leaves acne behind when they graduate secondary school. In fact, almost half of women between 20 and 29 years old reported they still experience acne symptoms, while 35% of women between 30 and 39 reported the same. Though the culprit may be different for some, a major factor in experiencing acne beyond adolescence is hormones. Imbalances in androgens (testosterone), progesterone, and estrogen can lead to increased sebum production, which leads to clogged pores and breakouts. Because women experience more changes in hormone levels during puberty, menstrual cycles, and menopause, females are more likely to experience adult acne. Simple put, in most cases, incidence of acne is more likely to be due to hormonal imbalances than due to age.
To properly treat adult acne, we need solutions that take the needs of mature skin into account. For this reason, it’s imperative to find a customized treatment solution.
Myth 3: All You Need is the Magic Fix!
If anyone tries to sell a one-size-fits-all approach to minimizing acne symptoms, run! With so many acne causes being the potential culprit, there will likely be a very specific and different skincare routine that works for each individual. In fact, 81% of women experiencing hormonal acne claim antibiotic acne medications, such as isotretinoin, failed to clear their skin. Don’t fall for myths about some magical miracle solution.
Instead, seek out advice from qualified skincare professionals who can recommend combined and customized treatments that are safe for one’s specific skin type and skin tone. Gentle skincare products may work for some, while others may need the combined power of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid in skin cleansers to clear out clogged pores and battle bacteria. Others still may be ideal candidates for a customized intense pulsed light (IPL) acne treatment plan, which consists of dual-light treatments that target acne-related inflammation and bacteria for a one-two punch. Whatever the solution, the first step is to seek the opinion of a qualified professional and avoid falling into the trap of a one-size-fits-all approach that may only lead to further damage.