Health Team

Dermatologist Pops Myths on Pimples

Posted August 28, 2007

Pimples are one of the mysteries of growing up and it seems like even many grown-ups still get them, but what causes them -- chocolate, grease, maybe stress? Dermatologists said many teens and their parents rely on ideas about acne that are not really true.

While blemishes are common for teens, the reason they pop up might surprise you.

"The No. 1 myth, and you can't talk mothers of America out of this, (is) diet causes acne," said dermatologist Dr. James Spencer.

Spencer said at the top of the list of acne diet myths is that chocolate can cause them. It doesn't.

"Acne is hormonal and has nothing to do with diet," he said.

The question becomes how do you keep zits under control. Many teens try to ward off acne by regularly cleaning their face. However, Spencer said that is another myth.

"If you rub and scrub too much, you'll irritate your skin and make your acne worse," he said.

Spencer said normal hygiene is all it takes to keep your pores clean and if a pimple does form, it's OK to pop them.

"If you can gently push on it to get the bad stuff out then that's helpful, but if you have to squeeze and squeeze, you're going to push the bad stuff in and make it worse and worse," he said.

Many teens may have discovered that zits do seem to have a knack for bad timing, like right before a big date or school dance. Though there's no link between stress and acne, Spencer said stress may affect your hormones and hormonal activity can lead to zits.


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  • purplepat777 Aug 30, 2007

    Proactiv didn't work for me nor my two kids. My son's acne was so bad we took him to a dermatologist and after everything was tried (antibiotics, creams, etc.) they finally tried Accutane and it was the only thing that worked. Different things work for different people. Now the only thing I want to know is how is it fair that I have my mother's wrinkles and my kids' pimples all at the same time?

  • flipit Aug 30, 2007

    Zits are caused by the zit fairy. This devilish little imp comes when you are asleep and zaps you with a zit gun.

  • ecumuse Aug 30, 2007

    I have suffered from acne for my entire adult life. I think that it is caused entirely by hormones and genetics personally. If it were caused by chocolate, I would be broken out 24/7, so I have always disputed the whole diet thing. I found that nothing works better than washing daily before bedtime with plain old original Noxzema. I still have breakouts every once in a while, but nowhere to the extent that I did previously. I have tried everything else, including proactive (greasy-yuck!), prescribed creams/pills, etc. If you are looking for something inexpensive with a long history (it has been around for a decade), I would try this before spending big bucks. Who knows what these other products and prescriptions are doing to you in the long run.

  • eastof raliegh Aug 30, 2007

    Another "clear as mud" analogy of pimples and their causes. The main thing I got from the story is that it's OK to pop them
    (not too hard though kiddies) Aim Carefully !!

  • Bing Used Aug 30, 2007

    I wonder if Accutane is what our family doctor said my son was a good candidate for? He told us that you have to have your bone marrow tested and I said NO WAY. I believe he said it dries your bone marrow out and possibly affect your liver.

  • Bing Used Aug 30, 2007

    ame5986, thanks for the advise, but I get genertic meds for $1 each and Proactive is like $20 and has the same active ingredents as what I can get for much less. Glad it is working for you and if we didn't have such good insurance I would be trying Proactive or that stuff they have in WalMart that says its the same as proactive.

  • jeebk04 Aug 30, 2007

    Accutane is in a totally different class than say, Differin or Retin A. With Accutane, you have to have blood levels checked every month, and it has been linked to Depression. This is why insurance companies are more hesitant to authorize payment for Accutane.

  • BeachBum08 Aug 29, 2007

    Firefalcom: yes i agree with you on that!!

  • firefalcon100 Aug 29, 2007

    I didn't read all the comments so someone may have already said this but this quote is rather stupid in my opinion.

    "Though there's no link between stress and acne, Spencer said stress may affect your hormones and hormonal activity can lead to zits."

    Now correct me if i am wrong, but wouldn't that last line there negate what he just said about stress being linked to acne? It would seem if stress = more hormones, and more hormones = more acne that more stress cause more acne?!! Tell me I'm not the only one who sees this??

  • BeachBum08 Aug 29, 2007

    I wonder: Dont waste your money on a dermatologist and their meds, they either 1 dont work or 2 dry your face out really bad!! Try Proactive!! Honestly I havent been back to a dermatologist or bought anything else since ive tried Proactive! Its helps my skin as well as my zits and. ( I dont hardly ever break out when i do its very small and gone after about 3 days. Do all 3 steps twice a day