Acne breakouts in adulthood are like a double punishment. Adolescence is still “under our skin” but without the carefree feeling that once helped attenuate the unsightliness. It’s back to the awkward age, only without the promise of a radiant future. And to top it off, the false notions abounding on the subject keep us trapped in the idea that if we suffer from acne as adults, it’s more or less our own fault. Another reason to put a definitive end to these myths that, because they develop bad reflexes, can turn a temporary disorder into an obsessive abscess…
As baseless as it is, this false belief has nonetheless caused generations of women to strip the surface of their face instead of gently cleansing it.
We repeat: the only effect that irritating, alkaline, or abrasive products have on acne-prone skin is to aggravate the situation by stimulating sebum secretion and dehydrating the skin. Comedones and micro-cysts, those tiny black or whiteheads on the surface of your skin are not dirt but accumulations of dead skin cells and oxidized lipids. That is what causes that darkness at the pore openings.
In practice, cleaning acne-prone skin once a day with a mild, adapted product is enough.
Although some topical treatments can help pimples disappear, relief is only short-term. You are dealing with a near-continuous cycle, with new lesions in formation just waiting to appear, which means that only regular, deep treatment of the entire facial surface can prevent new outbreaks.
Acne is primarily an inflammation of the skin surface, in which microbial balance plays a central role. Since this inflammatory condition is general, it is important to treat the entire face to eliminate existing lesions and prevent the appearance of new blemishes.
Certain ingredients like menthol, alcohol, peppermint, or eucalyptus are found in many products that are supposed to treat acne outbreaks. These ingredients have never proven their efficacy on oily or acne-prone skin, however they do irritate the skin and unbalance its flora and the main effect of their refreshing feeling is to stimulate sebum production even further, to an extent that they often make things worse.
While it’s true that a balanced diet contributes to improving overall health, many people eat greasy food and chocolate without getting acne. In fact, no scientific study has even proven any connection between diet and acne outbreaks. Although some recent work has shown that a diet that is too rich in sugar and dairy products can promote acne outbreaks in some people.
One recent study (C.L. Larosa J Am Acad Dermatol 2016; 75:318-22) established a correlation between consumption of skimmed or low-fat milk and moderate acne in teens aged 14 to 19. However, no correlation was revealed with the fact of drinking whole milk.
Concerning chocolate, another recent study (G.R.Delost J Am Acad Dermatol 2016; 75:220-221) measured the number of acne lesions in students average age 21, before and after eating chocolate.
The results are enlightening, even if the small number of subjects (56) does not enable any generalities. Eating chocolate increased the number acne lesions by a factor of 2.
This is simply not possible! While scrubs are intended to eliminate dead cells and clean the skin’s surface, you can rub and scrub the blemish-prone areas as much as you like, you will only succeed in eliminating the upper part of the sebum plug – often at the price of skin irritations and sometimes aggravated lesions – without acting on the what is going on at the base of the hair follicle.
In fact, your acne is guaranteed to reappear within a few days or even hours.
If you are clear on the fact that acne is not an infectious disease but a mere inflammation, then you know that acne is in no way contagious.
Now you know how much credit to give these popular misconceptions about adult acne in women. So all you need is to see all of the validated information in our feature article to help you truly understand what acne really is and how to prevent it.