Increasingly, more and more people are getting acne – a skin ailment which occurs when pores (the tiny holes on the skin) are plugged or blocked by dead skin cells and oil. The plugs blocking the pores can be seen on the skin as small spots referred to as blackheads and whiteheads. While acne is more pronounced on your face, it also occurs on your neck, shoulders, chest and back. Effective treatments for acne exist, but the condition can be dogged and take several months and even years to heal completely. Acne, especially when severe, can be distressful to the patient as bumps and pimples heal slowly. Even more annoying is the fact that when one pimple or bump goes away, others start to appear.
False beliefs and myths about acne
- There is a widely held belief that acne is caused by stress. This is untrue.
- It is not correct to say that taking lots of water cures acne.
- Most people dismiss acne as a simple skin condition. Acne is, however, a complex combination of changing hormones, overgrowth of typically harmless bacteria, sebum, and inflammation. Acne is not contagious and cannot be transmitted through touching.
- Poor hygiene does not cause acne. Indeed, too much washing is likely to worsen the condition.
- While some people believe that sunbathing helps clear acne, there’s no evidence to support such claims.
- There’s also the belief among some people that there’s no effective medical treatment for acne. This is wrong. There are effective medical treatments that work well when used properly.
What (not) to do when you have acne
- Do not attempt to clean off blackheads. Skin pigmentation handles the black tip(s) of blackheads and it is not caused by dirt as some people tend to believe. As such, the black tips cannot be gotten rid off by scrubbing or washing.
- Do not wash too much. Bathing two times a day is the norm for most persons. Use lukewarm water and mild soap. Note: using very cold or hot water is likely to worsen the condition. Also, don’t scrub hard when cleaning the acne-affected areas. Do not use exfoliating agents, cleansing granules, astringents or abrasive soaps. Excessive cleaning and scrubbing can cause more inflammation on your skin as well as worsen the acne.
- Using antiseptic washes can be helpful.
- Some topical preparations for acne such as creams, lotions and gels can dry your skin. If this happens to you, use water-based, fragrance-free moisturizing cream. Shun oil-rich creams or ointments because they are likely to clog the pores.