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Busted: 11 myths about acne you thought were true!

October 30, 2014 11:10 IST

There are several myths abound about acne cures.

Some of these so-called solutions can actually make the problem worse.

So beware, says leading cosmetic dermatologist Dr Jaishree Sharad.

Acne is one of the most common skin problems amongst young Indians.

Everyone wants their skin to glow like a movie star and several of us go to ridiculous extents to do things that we believe will help our skin.

And why not? Everyone loves to look good in photographs; no one loves zits and pimples!

But are you really doing your skin disservice by using multani mitti or washing your face several times a day?

In her book, Skin Talks: Secrets to Glowing Skin for Men and Women, Dr Jaishree Sharad one of India's leading cosmetic dermatologist seeks to address these questions and several others.

For nearly 15 years, Dr Sharad has consulted several well known Bollywood actors as well as politicians.

We bring you the following extract from the book excerpted with kind permission from the publisher, Random House.

Myth: If I take a blood-purifier, it will help clear my acne and purify my skin too.

Busted: Acne occurs due to a hormonal imbalance and a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.

It has nothing to do with pure and impure blood.

Myth: My daughter gets acne because she is always constipated. Give her something to clear her bowels.

Busted: Constipation may be unhealthy for the body but it has no direct effect on acne.

Yes, if a person is overtly stressed about his constipation, the stress hormone can certainly pop up and trigger acne.

Myth: I get big pimples because I have a lot of heat in my body.

Busted: Body heat increases due to fever, infections, exercise, climate, thyroid disorders, etc.

It may cause a heat rash such as prickly heat. However, it does not cause acne.

Myth: Oily and fried food will increase pimples.

Busted: Research shows that dairy products and food with high glycemic index can trigger acne.

Fried food has no role to play.

Myth: Acne can occur only on the face.

Busted: Acne can occur wherever one has sebaceous glands, which includes the back, chest, arms, shoulders, and buttocks.

Myth: Acne occurs only in teenagers.

Busted: The truth is that more than 50 per cent of women and about 25 per cent of men experience adult acne between the ages of 25 to 45 years.

It is a hormonal issue, one that is more common in teenagers.

Myth: My son gets pimples because he is dirty and unhygienic. He doesn't wash his face often.

Busted: Acne has nothing to do with dirt on the skin.

Yes, keeping your face dirty can cause bacteria to enter the existing acne and give rise to large boils, but that doesn't mean you scrub your face often.

Scrubbing your face too hard will only aggravate your acne.

Myth: I don't get pimples; only small blackheads now and then bother me.

Busted: Blackheads are also acne or pimples.

Pimple is a layman's term for acne.

Acne comprises blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, nodules, and cysts.

Myth: If I get a facial done regularly, my skin will be clear of acne.

Busted: Facials involve massaging of the skin with oils and creams followed by application of masks.

Massage itself will stimulate the oil glands to secret more oil leading to more acne.

A fairly common mask used by people who have acne is the multani mitti or clay mask.

While this indeed reduces the oil on the face, it can really dry the face if you are on an anti-acne treatment.

You should go for a clean up instead either at a skin clinic or a parlour that is hygienic.

The clean-up should just involve suction of the comedones ie whiteheads and blackheads without any cream application or massage.

Myth: I do not use a moisturiser on my body because I have oily, acne-prone skin.

Busted: You may have an oily, acne-prone skin on your face but your body skin can still be dry.

It certainly needs hydration.

So do not forget to moisturise your body. However, if you are prone to acne on the shoulders, back, chest and arms, you must avoid oil massages on the body.

Myth: Lemon juice, garlic, toothpaste, and slaked lime (choona) will instantly dry my pimples.

Busted: Lemon juice and garlic do indeed have antibacterial properties but they are better taken orally than applied on the acne.

Both can cause an irritation and rash, thereby creating an oozing, painful wound that will leave behind a blemish upon healing.

Toothpaste may contain baking soda and other chemicals that can dry out an occasional pimple.

But that doesn't mean all your zits will disappear.

In fact, your problems could get worse if your skin is sensitive or allergic to ingredients in the toothpaste.

By drying out the skin, toothpaste can increase redness and peeling.

Slaked lime or choona can cause irritant contact dermatitis and burns.

Excerpted with permission of Random House India from the book Skin Talks: Secrets to Glowing Skin for Men and Women by Dr Jaishree Sharad Rs 250.

Photograph: William Hartz/Creative Commons

Dr Jaishree Sharad