What is acne? Certainly, most of us know what it is, simply because we have had to experience it at one time or another in our lives. But, in case a definition is needed, here is a short one. Acne is a dermatological term that includes clogged pores, pimples and lumps or cysts that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. Acne occurs most commonly in teenagers, but is not limited to any age group, afflicting even adults in their forties. This disease has many varieties, and although none are life threatening, the more severe cases of acne can be disfiguring, leaving permanent scars on affected areas. The physical changes in body tissue - or lesions - which acne causes are described in five ways: comedos, papule, pustule, nodule and cyst. Further, these terms denote range or severity with comedo (also known as blackheads and whiteheads) at one end and nodules or cysts at the other.
As stated above, acne is most common among teenagers, affecting teens between the ages 12 and 17. Usually, these mild cases are cleared up with over-the-counter treatments and the acne goes away by the early twenties. It also should be noted that although acne affects both 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.
Many of the problems facing those who are trying to deal with acne are the pervasive sources of misinformation out there regarding the causes of acne. Despite the numerous valid sources of information on and about acne that are now available, these myths persist and are passed on by word-of-mouth to those unfortunate enough to suffer from the disease. Rather than finding solutions and treatments to alleviate the symptoms, problems are often compounded. Ill-advised treatments based off these myths can have less than effective results and can often do further damage in the case of severe acne. In light of the influence that these myths can have on both understanding acne in general and the courses of treatment in particular, it would be wise to start with a quick overview of some of the more common myths that are out there, dispelling the misinformation with the truth about them. After this we can move on to the question of what the actual causes of acne might be.
Myth #1: Acne is caused by poor hygiene.
It doesn’t matter how often, how ritually, you scrub your face and other areas affected by acne; this has no bearing on either the status of current a breakout or the creation of new problems. In fact, this sort of rigorous regimen of washing and scrubbing can actually irritate skin and make the acne worse, not better. Though you may have heard so from well-meaning parents growing up or some other misinformed person, acne is not caused by poor hygiene. This doesn’t mean that hygiene isn’t important. In fact, good hygiene can help reduce the effects of acne if used in conjunction with acne treatment products. 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.
“Don’t eat chocolate, it will give you pimples!” “They say that eating greasy foods can give you zits.” Most of you have heard these and other similar statements before, right? What they are saying, in effect, is that what you eat can cause acne. But, what they are saying isn’t true. It is a myth, one of the more popular ones actually, about the causes of acne. Extensive scientific research has been conducted, searching for possible correlations between one’s diet and a possible cause of acne, and have not found anything conclusive.
However, each of us is different. Some people notice that breakouts are worse after eating certain foods--and...