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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: 5 Myths About Treating Acne

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: 5 Myths About Treating Acne

Feb 05, 2024

In the battle against your child's acne, parents often wonder about the efficacy of treatments. Does washing the face help prevent acne? Will popping pimples make them go away faster? Pediatrician Cindy Gellner, MD, addresses five realities and misconceptions surrounding treating childhood and teenage acne.

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    Do you think you already know all there is to know about acne? You may be surprised that some of the things you've heard about acne aren't actually true.

    Fact: The Sun Can Trigger Breakouts

    Myth number one, "Tanning clears up the skin." Tanning may mask the appearance of acne, but the sun can actually make the skin more dry and irritated, which triggers breakouts. The sun can cause premature signs of aging and skin cancer so be sure to always wear sunscreen with a high SPF and choose one that says noncomedogenic on the label. That means it won't cause pores.

    Fact: Excessive Cleansing of the Face Can Trigger Breakouts

    Myth number two, "The more you wash your face, the fewer breakouts you'll have." Nope. Washing your face helps remove dirt and oil from your pores, but it can also cause dryness and irritation. Again, that means more breakouts. The best thing is to wash with a mild soap, not scrub, and gently pat your face dry when you're done.

    Fact: Popping Pimples Can Cause Swelling, Redness, and Scarring

    Myth number three, "Popping pimples will make them go away faster." No. We all know sometimes it's really hard to resist popping a pimple. But it can push bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil further into the skin, causing more swelling and redness. And it can also lead to scarring. Applying gentle pressure with a clean, warm, wet washcloth can sometimes help. But if there are a lot of pimples that need popping, best to head to the dermatologist for help.

    Fact: Noncomedogenic Makeup Will Not Trigger Breakouts

    Myth number four, "Don't wear makeup if you want clear skin." As long as you choose cosmetics that are noncomedogenic, again, meaning they won't cause breakouts, they shouldn't cause the breakouts. In fact, some makeup now contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, both of which help to fight acne. If you're still having breakouts or irritation, talk to a dermatologist about what makeup might be right for you.

    Fact: Too Much Acne Medication Can Trigger Breakouts

    Myth number five, "If you keep getting breakouts, it helps to use more acne medication until the breakouts stop." False. Acne medication contains drying agents like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Using too much may cause over-drying, again, leading to irritation. Notice a pattern here, over-drying leads to irritation, which leads to pimples. If over-the-counter medication doesn't seem to work on your acne, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor or dermatologist. There are medications we can prescribe that can help with those pesky pimples.


    updated: February 5, 2024
    originally published: February 13, 2017