Although common, acne is often misunderstood. It’s complicated and we don’t fully understand why some people develop it, or why some develop more severe forms compared to others. It’s affected by genetics, hormones, environment and everything in between. Given how different it can be from person to person, it’s inevitable that many misconceptions have appeared – let’s discuss 5 common misconceptions about acne:
People with oily skin tend to produce more oil from their sebaceous glands compared to someone with a normal or a dry skin type. The increased oil on the skin tends to provide a better breeding environment for the acne bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. Therefore, people with oily skin are more likely to struggle with spots or acne.
However, not everyone with acne has oily skin and not everyone with oily skin develops acne. Oftentimes, someone may have normal skin but due to over-stripping their skin with different products, may develop oily skin as a reaction.
Speaking of over-stripping skin with products – foaming face washes are often the culprit. In order to obtain the foam that gives them their name, foaming face washes often contain SLS/SLES (sodium lauryl sulphate/sodium laureth sulfate) and are too drying on the skin. When the skin is missing moisture, it can sometimes compensate by overproducing oil – thus the illusion of oily skin.
Since the skin is overproducing oil in an attempt to compensate for the lack of moisture, sometimes providing it with moisture is enough for it to balance out. Although it may seem counterintuitive, using a facial oil that is appropriate for acne prone skin may be beneficial.
Hormonal changes tend to predispose to development of acne. This is why the stereotype of acne sufferers is a teenager – puberty consists of some major hormonal changes in the body. But other hormonal changes, whether normal (e.g. menopause) or caused by disease (e.g. PCOS) can have the same effect.
In addition, environmental factors also have a strong impact. Onset of adult acne, which can start after the age of 25, is often attributed to stress.
Someone has probably taught you at some point to put toothpaste on a nasty spot – but please reconsider this advice. Toothpaste does not quell the inflammation, does not deal with the bacteria and furthermore, dries out the skin. Instead, use a treatment formulated to deal with spots.