5 Myths About Male Acne That You Believed Were True

Here’s the truth about acne according to a dermatologist.
IMAGE Edward R. Pressman Productions; Muse Productions

In our teens, we were led to believe that acne is normal and that we will eventually grow out of it. Now, it becomes very troubling when, even as adults, we still find ourselves struggling with perpetual blackheads and whiteheads, or worse, big cystic pimples with pus.

The truth is, pimples or acne are caused by different factors. On the cellular level, acne has four main causes:

1| Increased sebum production by the oil glands

2| Buildup of dead skin cells that clog the pores

3| Bacteria

4| Inflammation

People go to lengths applying all sorts of remedies that don’t really address these four issues. Without understanding the science of skin, they also opt for facial care that punishes cells more than help them. Here are some common acne myths that you need to stop believing.

Myth No. 1: Acne is caused by dirt, so you should wash your face frequently.

Already outlined above are the major causes of acne, and dirt is not one of them. Washing the face more often than twice a day strips the skin of essential lipids. This only makes the surface dry but does not do anything to reduce oil gland activity. In fact, washing your face frequently can aggravate acne by causing further irritation or inflammation. Over-washing your face can lead to increased oil production and a drier skin surface.

Myth No. 2: Because you have open pores, you get more blackheads and whiteheads.

It’s the other way around!

Blackheads and whiteheads (a.k.a. open and closed comedones, respectively) are composed of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria that get trapped inside pores. These masses cause the walls of the pore to stretch. Even after comedone extraction, more commonly known as pricking, the pores do not automatically revert to their original size. The more mass the blackhead or whitehead collects, the bigger the pore gets. It’s important to have your pores de-clogged through microdermabrasion or a mild chemical peel like a glycolic acid peel once a month to prevent dead skin cells from accumulating.


Myth No. 3: Acne treatment leads to dark spots, open pores, and scars so it’s best to leave acne alone.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH is the medical term for acne marks or dark spots. As the name suggests, the pigmentation develops as a reaction of the skin to inflammation. Acne itself involves inflammation. So even after a pimple subsides, there’s a dark spot that remains.

Inflammation is the skin’s way of responding to a potentially harmful agent. When you have cystic pimples, the comedones within them are perceived by the body as the enemy. It sends white blood cells to the affected site to fight and neutralize bacteria. In the process, your skin’s surface becomes collateral damage, resulting in acne scars.

Early and proper intervention can prevent pimples from progressing to a more florid breakout. Acne treatments reduce the chances of more severe dark spots, open pores, and scarring.

Myth No. 4: Once acne is resolved, you don’t need to do anything else to keep your skin clear.

Maintenance treatments prevent acne from coming back. Your skin may be clear for now, but it doesn’t mean that there’s no recurrence brewing beneath the surface. A monthly exfoliation is beneficial to prevent dead skin cells from accumulating. Laser Genesis is a type of laser procedure that not only reduces dark spots and tightens open pores but also decreases skin oiliness. If you have the misfortune of getting a huge zit, have it injected right away as bigger pimples have a greater tendency to cause wider and deeper scars.

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Myth No. 5: Acne is not related to diet.

In the past, our doctors would tell us that acne is not related to diet. But new research shows that acne is related to some types of food. Recent studies show that consumption of dairy products increases the chances of developing acne. Foods with high glycemic indices have also been found to be correlated with acne.

Regular skin care is essential to prevent acne.

Acne is like a ticking time bomb. Your skin may be quiet for now but you can have a flare-up at any age. It helps to educate yourself on habits that may trigger or worsen it. Visiting a knowledgeable doctor with the right topicals and medical equipment can also save you a lot of trouble rather than doing trial and error with self-medication.

Dr. Kyla Talens is the medical director of Skin Philosophie, 9th Avenue corner Lane P, Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City.

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Kyla Talens
Dra. Kyla Talens is the Medical Director for Skin Philosophie
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