5 Acne Treatment Myths That Can Make Acne Worse

5 Acne Treatment Myths That Can Make Acne Worse

When you're living with acne, it seems like everyone you meet wants to tell you about some magical cure they know of that can stop your breakouts. Unfortunately, most of these "cures" are not worth a second of your time...and some may even make your skin worse. While some are so bizarre (banana peels on your face?) that they're rejected outright, others seem logical enough that they start to get passed around as legitimate options, despite having no evidence for their effectiveness.

Here is a look at five such myths. While they may be tempting to try, in the long run they're only preventing you from finding a treatment that will actually work (and don't forget they can make your skin worse by irritating it and/or increasing the danger of skin cancer).

Myth: Applying toothpaste to pimples will clear a breakout.

This is one of the oldest DIY tricks around, and on the surface it does seem a bit logical. Toothpaste contains ingredients like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and alcohol - all of which can act as a drying agent. It makes sense that these could help to remove excess skin oil, which would in turn unclog pores, right?

Many recent formulations of toothpaste contain a number of additional ingredients and chemicals that can certainly irritate the skin. Toothpaste consistency can also be abrasive and actually open the irritated skin to inflammation and further breakouts. This is especially true for those who have sensitive or combination skin, or for those who use toothpastes that have ingredients like cinnamon or mint. After prolonged use, ingredients like this may even leave minor burns on your face because of their highly astringent properties. It's clear that toothpaste should definitely be reserved for your teeth only.

Myth: Tanning bed use can eliminate excess skin oil and reduce acne.

Unfortunately, this myth is not only ineffective, it's downright dangerous. As with toothpaste, some people believe that the UV light emitted from tanning beds can help dry the skin (thereby eliminating excess sebum) and reduce breakouts.

On the one hand, it's true that a darker skin tone can help mask the appearance of acne. However, hiding breakouts it not the same as eliminating them! Additionally, the drying effects of tanning beds are too extreme. They may eliminate excess oil, but they'll also leave your skin feeling tender and inflamed. Anyone who's ever dealt with a particularly nasty sunburn can attest to this.

Tanning bed use also prematurely ages the skin, which means that you'll look older than you actually are. Do you really want to complicate your complexion troubles more than they already are?

Most importantly, the use of tanning beds to treat acne is a bad idea simply because using tanning beds for any purpose is dangerous. Most major medical associations agree-repeated exposure to UV light increases your risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, sometimes by 75%!

When dealing with light from the sun or a tanning bed, it's best to limit your exposure or choose a sunscreen that can help protect your skin against damaging UV rays.

Myth: All it takes is a little elbow grease to eliminate breakouts.

How do you take care of a pesky countertop stain that just won't go away? You scrub it harder, right? Unfortunately, too many people apply this approach to treating their acne as well. In some respects, this idea makes sense-it just seems logical that scrubbing your face harder will eliminate more pore-clogging debris and lead to a deeper cleanse. However, in reality, this isn't the case.

These types of actions actually force your skin to go into "protection mode" so it will actually produce more oil to protect itself - which is the exact opposite of what you want. Going at your skin full-blast with an exfoliating brush or washcloth will only leave it more vulnerable than it already is making the skin look red, and actually pushing debris deeper into your pores, which means that they'll be even harder to unclog.

In addition, scrubbing away at your face may also lead to small abrasions that have the potential to become infected. If you thought that dealing with blackheads was bad enough, just wait until you have to treat an infected one.

Myth: Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are the answer to breakouts.

Most over-the-counter acne cleansers share one thing in common-their use of drying agents, salicylic acid and/or benzoyl peroxide. Have you ever noticed how dry your skin gets after using products with either of these ingredients? Well, in the long run, this is actually a bad thing. Dry skin can cause your pores to produce even more skin oil, which will cause more pore clogging and acne-and so begins a vicious cycle; and dead skin cells may be a serious factor in clogging your pores.

These ingredients do not treat acne - they may address the outward symptoms of it temporarily but they do not address the cause. The cause of acne is over active sebaceous glands, which produce too much sebum (skin oil) into the pores of the skin causing them to clog. If you don't treat your acne, very rarely will the problem go away permanently just by using products (containing these ingredients) that provide short term improvements.

The FDA most recently issued a new warning about salicylic acid and it's friend, benzoyl peroxide. In short, they state that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid have been reported to be associated with not so frequent but severe allergic reactions, so customers should use caution when using products with these ingredients in them. Symptoms can include hives, headaches, skin discoloration, and in some cases, even more acne.

Myth: Prescription-strength treatments are worth the risk.

When you've tried numerous over-the-counter and DIY acne treatments but nothing's worked, you might be tempted to buckle down and go for the big hitters-prescription strength medication.

One of the biggest names among these products is Accutane, which has been taken off the market and is subject to a class action suit because of its severe health side effects. It's generic versions (ex. Isotretinoin, Roaccutane, Curacne, etc.) have the same side effects, but are still available. Additionally, the generic brands cannot be sued for their damages; according to American law, only an "innovator" drug can be subject to punitive judgement.

Severe side effects can include birth defects, serious gastrointestinal issues like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease and mental health issues like depression and suicidal thoughts. Pregnant women please take note of this because the effects that this medication can have on your baby are staggering. This is why many come to us as one of the best alternatives to anything with these types of side effects. AcnEase has no known side effects and is the only natural medicine on the market that effectively and safely breaks the cycle of your acne.

Don't know what type of acne you have? Check out our smart tool, which will also lead you to the product best suited for you.

With a promise of clear skin,
Dr. A

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