What Is Acne?

Acne is a term that includes clogged pores, pimples and lumps or cysts that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. It occurs mostly in teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17, but can occur at any age. This condition has many variations and is non life threatening, but the more severe cases of acne can be disfiguring, leaving permanent scars on the affected areas.

The lesions which acne causes are described in five ways: comedos, papule, pustule, nodule and cyst. These terms denote the range or severity. Comedo, also known as blackheads and whiteheads, are at one end of the scale and nodules or cysts at the other.

Usually, the mild cases are cleared up with over-the-counter treatments. Although acne affects girls and boys equally, there are some distinctions. Young men are more likely to have severe, long-term acne while women can have reoccurring or intermittent acne well into adulthood, due to hormonal changes and cosmetics.

Acne Myths

Despite the amount of information available about acne, there are many myths that confuse those who suffer from the condition. Rather than finding solutions and treatments to alleviate the symptoms, problems are often compounded by ill-advised treatments based on these myths. Some treatments based on these myths actually do more harm than good.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the myths.

Myth #1: Acne is caused by poor hygiene

It doesn’t matter how often you scrub your face or other areas affected by acne. In fact, a rigorous regimen of washing and scrubbing can actually irritate the skin and make the acne worse, not better.

Acne is not caused by poor hygiene. It doesn’t mean that hygiene isn’t important, but it’s not the cause. Good hygiene in conjunction with acne treatment products can help. Rather than frequent, harsh washing, it is generally recommended that you wash your face twice to three times a day with mild soap and then pat it dry – don’t scrub dry.

Myth #2: Acne is caused by diet

Extensive scientific research has determined that there is no link between food and acne. However, each of us is individual, so if you find that you break out after eating a particular food, cut back on that food.

Myth #3: Acne is caused by stress

Stress is not a direct cause of acne, but it is true that some types of stress can cause the body to produce a hormone called cortisol, which can irritate existing acne. Indirectly, some medication that we take to alleviate or control extreme stress or emotional problems like depression can be factors in the production of acne. In fact, some medicines have acne listed as a possible side effect.
Myth #4: Acne will go away on its own

This is generally not true. Acne needs treatment to be cured. There is a huge selection of acne treatment products available today, so try some and find what works for you. In some cases, a dermatologist should be consulted and other forms of treatment can be pursued.

Myth #5: Tanning clears up skin

Tanning has the reverse effect. It may have masked the acne, but in reality, the sun can make the skin dry and irritated, which can lead to more breakouts. If you do tan, make sure you are using a sunscreen that doesn’t contain oils and other chemicals that might clog up your pores and cause acne to get worse. Look for noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic sunscreen.

Myth #6: Popping Zits Will Make Them Go Away Faster

Instead of speeding up the process of healing, this action actually prolongs the situation as popping the whitehead caused the bacteria inside to be pushed deeper into the skin, which allows more infection to grow, and ultimately leads to scarring.

Myth #7: Only Teenagers get acne.

The truth is, about 25% – 30% of all people between the ages of 25- 44 have active acne.

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