The Myths, Truths, and Treatments of Acne

September 4th, 2015 by Soderstrom Skin Institute


Most of us have been there. You are worrying about an important presentation in the morning at work, only to wake up with a new blemish. No matter the specific situation, acne can be an embarrassing and even debilitating skin condition that affects many people at some point in their lives.

Forty to fifty million people have acne at any one time.

It is the most common skin problem in the United States.
— American Academy of Dermatology

What is Acne?

Acne is an inflammation of the oil glands and hair follicles of the skin. During your lifetime, especially during adolescent years, hormonal changes take place. These changes can cause oil glands to produce more oil than necessary to lubricate the skin. When this happens, the gland opening gets blocked, and germs grow, causing pimples to form.

Acne consists of blackheads, whiteheads, red bumps, pustules, and sometimes deeper boil-like spots called cysts or nodules. Most commonly appearing on the face, acne occurs anywhere that oil glands are numerous. Other common areas susceptible to acne breakouts are the back, chest, shoulders, and neck.

While it is not curable, acne is treatable and visiting a dermatologist is the first step in getting acne under control and eventually into remission.

Because it commonly appears in teens going through puberty, many make the serious mistake of “waiting out” acne. Even when briefly affected, not treating the disease can have consequences like recurring flares-ups later in life and the increased likelihood of scars in the affected areas. Treating and preventing acne now means less of a chance to experience it in the future.

More women are getting adult onset acne.

Not just teens have acne. A growing number of women have acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s.
— American Academy of Dermatology

What Are the Treatment Options?

Since no two patients are alike, assessing acne on a case-by-case basis is a critical part of successfully treating the condition. Additionally, treatment times can vary and some patients may need treatment for a few months; while for others, treatment is necessary for a few years.

Modern advances within the medical field give today’s patient more treatment options than ever before. Some of the highly advanced and specialized methods of acne treatment include: antibiotics, hormones and birth control pills, topical creams, acne surgery to remove blackheads, ultraviolet light, intralesional injections, Accutane, and more. Incorporating special glycolic facial peel treatments can also help cleanse the skin and exfoliate dead cells, making it an effective method for clearing acne-prone skin.

Acne scars can be treated with a variety of products and services including Retin-A, glycolic peels or creams, advanced medical peels, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, surgical removal, dermal fillers, and laser treatments.

Keep in mind that proper diet, adequate rest, and controlling your stress are all important to improve your general health and skin health.

Proper cleansing is also very important:
•  Wash face, neck, back, and any other involved areas once or twice a day.
•  Wash gently with warm water and a cleanser to remove surface oils and dirt.
•  Splash your skin with water to rinse off soap and softly pat dry.
•  Rubbing aggressively can irritate your skin and make your acne worse.

There are many misconceptions regarding acne. Here are some myths and truths that can help when trying to understand the condition.

Myth or Truth?
“Eating chocolate causes your skin to break out.”
Myth: Chocolate and greasy foods have proved to have little to no effect on the development or course of acne.

“My skin must be dirty because I have acne.”
Myth: Acne is not a disease caused by dirt and some individuals go to extremes in scrubbing their skin. Since the oil plug starts much deeper, this is of little use and can actually irritate your skin.

“Only teenagers get acne.”

Myth: Although the majority of patients with acne are teenagers, at least 10 percent of acne patients are adults. Acne can affect anyone and is linked to hormones, not age.

“I got my acne from my parent(s).”
Truth: Heredity plays an important role in the acne process. The size and activity of the oil glands are dictated by DNA. If your parents both had problems with acne, you are also more likely to experience it throughout your life.

“Stress can have an affect on acne.”
Truth: Stress has been directly linked to acne flares. Acne may also be aggravated by lack of sleep, rubbing, friction, excessive sweating, and picking or squeezing the plugged pores.

“Certain medicines can cause acne.”
Truth: The list of drugs aggravating acne is a long one. Corticosteroids in high doses produce enlargement of the oil glands. Certain hormonal drugs, such as testosterone and progesterone in birth control pills, have a tendency to aggravate acne. Other aggravating agents are lodides and bromides, which are found in certain vitamin and mineral preparations, sedatives, asthma medications and cold remedies, phenobarbital, and others.

The First Step

Waiting for acne to clear on its own can be frustrating. Without treatment, acne can cause lasting scars, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

To avoid these possible outcomes, dermatologists recommend an initial consultation, treatment plan, and follow-up examinations. When the skin clears, treatment should continue. Treatment helps prevent new breakouts. Your dermatologist can tell you when you no longer need to treat acne to prevent breakouts.

By Carl W. Soderstrom, MD, Soderstrom Skin Institute

Soderstrom Skin Institute is proud to be celebrating 40 years in Central Illinois. For additional information on their acne treatment program, contact them toll-free at 888-970-7546. To schedule a consultation with Board Certified Dermatologist Carl W. Soderstrom, MD at their Normal office, please call 309-268-9980. Before and after photos are available at

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