This website has moved to a new location. Please visit our sister website for next day delivery.
  • Prescription included
  • Genuine medication
  • All-inclusive service - No hidden fees
  • Free next-day delivery
Home / Acne / 9 common acne myths and why they’re wrong

9 common acne myths and why they’re wrong

Learn about acne myths and the truth behind them

Acne is a common condition across the globe. It causes pimples and blemishes that range in severity. It leaves many with long-term struggles like acne scarring or low self-esteem.

Young girl with acne looking sadly at herself in the mirror.

Despite its prevalence, there are still many myths that circulate about acne - some of which can be highly damaging to people with acne.

We will discuss 9 common myths about acne, why they’re wrong and the truth behind the condition.

1. Only teenagers get acne

Acne is most common during puberty and it is why the condition is mostly associated with teenagers. This is due to the hormonal changes that happen during this period.

However, acne can occur at any age. Adult acne is more common than you think.

Statistics Trusted source Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) Government Source Go to source reported by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) show:

  • 85% of people with acne are aged 12-24
  • 8% are aged 25-34
  • 3% are aged 35-44

Some people don’t have acne as teenagers, but develop it as they get older. A lot of lifestyle factors or medical conditions can trigger or worsen acne that is not related to puberty.

2. Eating greasy food causes acne

The relationship between your diet and acne is complicated.

No, a poor diet of greasy food does not directly cause acne. It is predominantly related to genetics and hormones which most people cannot control. However, for some, diet may be an acne trigger.

Close-up of a person eating a plate of high-fat foods.

Research Trusted source PubMed Government Source Database of Biomedical Research Go to source has shown that high-glycaemic foods may cause acne breakouts. These are foods that cause a sudden spike in blood sugar. This includes carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes and sugary foods like cakes.

Other studies Trusted source PubMed Government Source Database of Biomedical Research Go to source show that cow’s milk products may also cause acne breakouts.

In short, certain foods may play a role in acne. However, more research is needed to understand the link.

3. Sun exposure improves acne

Many people believe the sun is good for their skin because they feel tanned and glowing. However, the sun has the opposite effect.

The sun emits ultraviolet rays (UV rays). When they enter the skin, they disrupt processes that affect the skin’s growth and appearance.

This can make acne worse. It dries out your skin, which can cause your skin to overproduce sebum. This can cause more breakouts.

As well as acne, the sun can cause sun damage. This can cause wrinkles, age spots and general skin damage. It can potentially lead to skin cancer with repeated exposure.

Wearing an SPF of 30 or above will help reduce the risk of sun-damaged skin and help control your acne.

4. Acne is caused by poor hygiene

One of the most damaging myths about acne is that it is linked to poor hygiene. A lot of the processes for acne occur under the skin and cannot be controlled.

Close-up of a young woman washing with a foam cleanser.

Overwashing your skin can make your acne worse. When you cleanse too often, you strip the natural oils from your skin. This causes your skin to overproduce sebum in response and trigger flare-ups.

Stick to washing your face once in the morning, once before bed, and after you exercise.

5. Toothpaste is a good remedy for spots

An infamous myth is that applying toothpaste to spots will help them clear up overnight.

The ingredients in toothpaste are great for cleaning teeth. However, most of them are too harsh for your skin. They can dry out your skin and cause excess oil production.

Close-up of a man squeezing toothpaste onto a toothbrush.

Instead, ask your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter or prescription acne treatments. These are clinically proven. When used correctly, control acne symptoms.

6. All makeup makes acne worse

People with acne can still wear makeup. They just need to choose the right products.

Comedogenic products clog your pores, leading to spots. Non-comedogenic products do not clog your pores.

You should also avoid leaving makeup on before bed, using unclean brushes or tools, or sharing makeup with others. These factors will also help reduce the risk of breakouts.

7. Acne is contagious

Acne cannot be passed from person to person like common colds or infections.

Bacteria does play a role in clogging pores. However, it is usually a harmless bacteria that lives on the skin.

Disruption in the skin flora caused by numerous factors causes overgrowth in acne bacteria. You can’t catch the bacteria from someone else.

8. Natural remedies work for acne

Many people are tempted to try natural treatments first. Perhaps they don’t want to go to their doctor or they don’t want to take medications. Unfortunately, these herbal remedies are not very effective.

Many products are advertised as natural acne treatments, such as:

  • witch hazel
  • tea tree oil
  • green tea
  • apple cider vinegar
  • honey
  • aloe vera
  • supplements (e.g. zinc)

There is little evidence that these herbs work for acne. Some products are likely to contain other ingredients that may dry out or irritate the skin like fragrance or alcohol.

Thankfully, many medical treatments are clinically proven and effective for acne. Your doctor can assess the severity of your acne and decide what treatment is best for you.

9. Popping pimples gets rid of symptoms faster

While it may feel very satisfying, popping your spots can make symptoms worse.

By squeezing spots, you push the bacteria and pus deeper into your skin. This can cause more inflammation and redness. It also damages the underlying skin, which can put you at a greater of acne scarring.

Young woman looking in the mirror trying to pop a spot.

No matter how tempting it may be, you mustn’t pop your spots.

Key takeaways

In conclusion, there is a lot of misinformation about acne. Some rumours can be extremely damaging and can affect the mental health of people with acne.

So, it’s important to listen to trusted medical sources or ask a healthcare professional.

You should also not choose any acne medications unless they have been verified as safe by your doctor or dermatologist. Prescription treatment is the most reliable and safe method for treating acne.

Learn more about acne treatments

Click here

Most people with mild to moderate acne will be prescribed a topical treatment such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid or adapalene. These reduce inflammation and aid your skin’s natural processes.

For moderate to severe cases, you may also be prescribed an oral antibiotic such as lymecycline as well as topical treatment. The antibiotic will help control the bacteria on your skin.

Getting the right treatment will also help prevent acne scarring and other long-term complications.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 30-12-2023

Our service - only on euroClinix
  • Private & confidential serviceDiscreet packaging and encrypted data
  • Genuine & branded medicationFrom UK registered pharmacies
  • No doctor visit neededOur doctors assess you online
  • Free next day deliveryOrder by 4:30 to receive tomorrow
View Treatments

Further reading

How to choose the right acne treatment

How to choose the right acne treatment

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
Acne scarring: symptoms, causes and treatment

Acne scarring: symptoms, causes and treatment

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
From stress to sleep, how daily habits can impact your skin

From stress to sleep, how daily habits can impact your skin

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
What is ‘bacne’ and how do I get rid of it?

What is ‘bacne’ and how do I get rid of it?

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
Foods to avoid for clear skin

Foods to avoid for clear skin

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
What is the link between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and acne?

What is the link between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)...

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
What skin conditions are often confused with acne?

What skin conditions are often confused with acne?

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
  • Select

  • Fill out a short
    medical form

  • Doctor issues

  • Medication sent
    from pharmacy