Acne Myth Blog

I am often asked in clinic if it is okay to “pop” a pimple.

by Dr. Ken Alanen

Debunking 9 Of The Most Common Acne Myths

Popping pimples is good for your skin. I am often asked in clinic if it is okay to “pop” a pimple. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When a pimple is “popped” it often ruptures deep inside your skin as well. This can lead to acne scarring - which can be permanent. It is far preferable to use a concentrated benzoyl peroxide to help dissolve the surface of the clog so that all of the material within the pore can drain out. It is for these reasons that the Revoderm Acne Spot Treatment was designed.


acne spot treatment


1. Acne Reflects Bad Hygiene.

No, it does not. Acne is caused by many factors including genetics, thick makeup, many comedogenic sunscreens and simple misfortune – but it does not reflect bad hygiene. In fact, if you wash and scrub your skin too much, it will often exacerbate the problem. It is the reason why you shouldn’t use rubbing alcohol on your skin – it certainly “de-greases” the skin, but it leads to secondary overproduction of oil, making a bad thing worse. The ideal cleanser is acneBeta Cleanser  which removes excess oil, sebum and debris from your skin but one which does not excessively dry out your skin. I am a fan of 2% salicylic acid with natural plant based skin-calming extracts. Do this once or twice per day, but not more.

 2. Toothpaste Helps Acne.

This is a common misconception. Toothpaste is basically a detergent and in that regard, but it is not formulated for your skin and ultimately, it is too irritating for acne.

 3. You Need To Exfoliate More.

Just as you should NOT excessively cleanse your skin, excessive exfoliation ultimately worsens complexion. Loofahs and coarse sponges are to be avoided (especially if you are using them in the shower every day – you are merely re-introducing the bacteria and sebum and oil from the previous day). Most scrubs on the market today are made from charcoal or are sugar based. The particles in charcoal scrubs in our experience are too fine and ultimately add to the clogging tendency. Sugar scrubs are not ideal as they can ultimately “feed” bacteria within pores. Micronized pumice stone Microdermabrasion Scrub is the ideal ingredient for an acne scrub – it helps remove clogs and it is not comedogenic. Scrubs set the stage for everything else that you do for your skin care routine: pores are opened so that toners, prescription creams etc. can get to where they need to go – i.e. into the pores where the oil is made.

 4. Diet Does Not Affect Acne.

Not true. Diet does affect acne. It has been demonstrated in the recent past that pro-inflammatory diets and high carbohydrate diets (The relationship of diet and acne) and (Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris) are associated with acne. Happily, there is no association of chocolate and acne.

5. Makeup Is Good For Acne.

There is a justifiable desire to cover your pimples with makeup. However thick, oil based preparations essentially “fill up” your pores, leading to more pimples, ultimately making a bad thing worse. Many of us are not keen to give up makeup and so when you wear makeup, ensure that it is a mineral-based line. We love Jane Iredale for acne prone skin.

6. Tanning Beds Are Good For Acne.

This is a big one; while it is absolutely true that ultraviolet light from tanning beds (and the sun, for that matter) helps minimize the inflammation within acne lesions, it damages the DNA of your skin (increasing the risk of skin cancer in the years to come) and leads to wrinkles, irregular pigmentation and broken capillaries. So much of what adults pursue in terms of anti-aging skin care and procedures is caused by ultraviolet light incurred many years prior. Keep your skin young and healthy; avoid tanning beds completely and minimize ultraviolet light damage from sunshine by using a non-comedogenic zinc oxide chemical free sunscreen. We developed Age Defy sunscreen with this dilemma in mind.

7. Acne-Prone Skin Does Not Need Moisturizer.

Not true! Acne skin is very often oily and Oily acne skin feels moisturized, but in fact it is quite dry in most cases… When you are thirsty, you drink water, not olive oil. This analogy is perfectly applicable oily skin. Acne therapies are designed to slow down oil production. Many of the prescriptions (most creams and Accutane, for sure) for acne therapy add to the drying tendency. So, you should use a gentle non-comedogenic moisturizer and ideally a hyaluronic acid serum so as to hydrate your skin.

 8. Antibiotics Are Bad For Acne.

There is an understandable desire to minimize antibiotic use for treating acne. Doxycycline, Tetracycline and Minocycline are commonly used and they are typically highly effective for treating this condition. The criticism that they “work great when I am on them, but the acne comes back as soon as I stop” is legitimate. We completely agree and often call antibiotics “the illusion of cure”. When antibiotics are in the therapeutic regimen, they should be viewed as a temporizing measure – they hold the scar risk tendency at bay, buying you the necessary time for the skin care and topical prescriptions to “kick in”. Once the active acne is under control, the pills can be stopped and the topical regimen minimizes the relapse risk.

 9. Acne Does Not Need To Be Treated.

We commonly hear that “you’ll grow out of your acne” and yes this is true. But acne can be psychologically devastating and untreated acne all too commonly causes scarring. Acne is not just a teenage issue – it can persist into middle age, in fact. The ideal regimen is one which minimizes oil production, keeps the pores open, keeps the acne bacteria population in the skin to a minimum and is not irritating for your skin. An ideal acne regimen can prevent (or minimize) pimples and, by extension, acne scars. Reversing acne scars can be a very difficult and extensive process. The best scar, is the one that you never get. Think of your skin care routine as a scar prevention routine.


Stay healthy!


Dr. Ken Alanen