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Despite an attempt to dispell many of the common myths regarding acne and acne therapy, many people remain confused as to whether there is any truth behind these myths. Below is a discussion of some of the more common misconceptions that still exist...

Diet and acne
Chocolate. Greasy food. Candy. They all make acne worse, right? Not really. While the relationship between certain foods and acne remains one of the most commonly held beliefs, these beliefs are not supported. There have been several studies that have attempted to prove a link between diet and acne, but most have failed to prove a realtionship. A recent study did suggest that milk intake, specifically skim mild could be related to acne as well as a smaller realtionship with sherbet, cottage cheese, and cream cheese. The though proposed was that increased hormones found in the these dairy products were causing the acne. However, the data collected in this study was based on recall of acne, and did not actually involve a clinical diagnosis. In addition, there has been talk about the "western" diet and its overall effect on acne. The only study to look at this however, did not prove any significant relationship. So, to date, no overall conclusions can be made regarding the relationship between diet and acne. That being said, if it seems that a certain food is making your acne worse, it is best to try and avoid that food.

Hygiene/dirt and acne
It is a commonly held belief that dirt makes acne worse. However, when looking at the key components of acne, we see that this is a deeper process, and that dirt is actually not a factor. In fact, there is no scientific evidence to support the fact that dirt contributes to acne.

Face washing and acne
Most physicians recommend washing the face gently twice a day. There is a misconception however that washing the face more may help to further decrease acne. The opposite may be true. Increased or vigorous facial washing may cause a mechanical effect that can worsen acne. Face washing helps most if the use of a therapreutic cleanser is used and many physicians will include a prescription cleanser in individual acne regimens.

Stress and acne
The relationship of stress and acne has recently been re-evaluated. A recent study, though small, indicated that stress may in fact be associated with worsening of acne. It is felt that stress may release additional hormones that may influence acne formation. The study was small, but it seems that stress and acne may indeed be related.

Touching the face and acne
Similar to other myths, it is felt that toucing the face may aggravate acne due to contamination with bacteria, adding dirt to the face, or adding more oil to the face. These ideas have never been supported. The only way that tounching the face incfluences acne is by a mechanical phenomenon in which resting on a hand, etc. can cause breakdown of the follicles in an individual who is prone to acne (acne mechanica). In addition, a more extreme form of touching the face is picking at pimples and scrathing them (acne excoriee). This type of behavior clearly can worsen acne.

Popping pimples and scarring
One commonly help belief is that popping pimples can make them disappear faster. While this may be true in rare cases of very superficial lesions, attempting to pop deeper lesions may actually worsen acne. When a deeper acne lesion in manipulated, there is a risk of pushing the inflammation deeper into the skin causing the follicle to stretch, distort, or even rupture. This then attracts more inflammation which causes the lesion to acutally lasts longer and may even lead to scarring.

Sleep and acne
While there is no clear cut evidence that lack of sleep worsens acne, some feel that lack of sleep occurs most commonly during periods of high stress. This high sterss level as previously discused may contribute to worsening of acne.

Hydration (water consumption) and the skin
It is a widespread belief that drinking more water will help to hydrate the skin and that this can improve acne. This belief however is significantly flawed. There is no proof that increasd water consumption can help acne. In addition, there is no scientific or studied proof that it can help hydrate the skin.

Tanning and acne
Many people fell that sunlight and tanning helps their acne. This may be true for a few reasons. First of all, a tan may help to cover up the appearance of blemishes. In addition, similar to the use of blue-light and lasers, UV light may help to kill bacteria and thus help acne. With this being said however, broad exposure to the sun or tanning booths is not recommended for the treatment of acne as the potential risks of skin cancer and photoaging far outweight the benefits it can provide in treating acne.

Exercise and acne
For some people, exercise may seem to help acne and likley this is from stress reduction. In others however there is the belief that sweat blocks pores and that this can in fact worsen or cause acne. A recent, small study however did not demonstrate any effect between physical activity induced sweat and the formation of acne. One explanation for the development of acne in athletes is acne mechanica as this can develop from heat, pressure, friction and occlusion that often occurs in individuals wearing heavy equipment while playing sports.


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