Susan Lennon MSW, LCSW Content Strategist
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Acne: Clearing Up the Myths
USA Weekend Magazine, May 1, 2005
by Susan T. Lennon

Seventeen million – nearly 85 percent – of us experience acne at some point in our lives. While there is still no cure, myths and misconceptions abound.

As Alexa Boer Kimball, MD, MPH, explained at the recent 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology:

  1. Myth: Poor Hygiene Aggravate Acne – Not! A dirty face doesn’t cause acne, so don't wash it repeatedly; irritation exacerbates it! Do wash twice a day with a gentle soap or, if you’re treating active acne, a medicated cleanser.
  2. Myth: Exercise Makes Acne Worse – not true – at least for men with acne on their backs and chest. Do: Get on out there! But shower afterward, and avoid tight-fitting clothing and equipment. Don’t: Re-use those stinky clothes – throw ‘em in the laundry!
  3. Myth: Picking Pimples Makes Them Go Away – wrong! Unless you can squeeze stuff up and out swiftly, once, without force, don’t do it. Not only can it spread infection, it can also result in scarring.
  4. Myth: Chocolate and Greasy Foods Cause Acne – no they don’t – no study correlates fat intake with acne. Do eat a healthy, balanced diet, for your general health. Don’t eat certain foods if you’re convinced they make your acne worse.

Don’t acquiesce to acne. Here are more tips:

  • Forget quick fixes and zapping zits. “Acne medicines don’t work overnight,” says Boer Kimball, “Get into the habit of applying your medication to the spots where you’re prone to break outs.”
  • Buy "noncomedogenic" cosmetics and toiletries. These products are prepared to NOT cause acne.
  • See a dermatologist. Only eight to 30 percent of teens, who are most affected, seek specialty care for their acne. Acne causes both physical and psychological scars – but there’s hope. Many new treatments can help.

For more information, visit the American Association of Dermatology at:

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