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Acne Myths, Finally Some Facts

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Acne is a common skin condition, which can be extremely mild or quite disfiguring. Having had a rather bad case as a young adolescent, I know the kind of socially embarrassing consequences it can have for the victim but I also remember it being sore and painful, filling my life with discomfort. It lingered a long time until I went to a dermatologist who used a type of freezing process, mechanically removing excessive puss from the lesions in relatively non-painful way. There were also topical notions. The result was total success, without scarring.

Until I went to a dermatologist, though, there was little or no gain in getting rid of this foul condition. I, like other children, were subject to disturbing concepts of its origins. Although this was a long time ago, these myths have stayed around- often causing grave delays in seeking treatment.

One of the myths is that acne is caused by everyday dirt and surface oil on the skin and that the solution is frequent and vigorous washing of the skin. Vigorous washing of the face to cure acne is a myth. The fact is- the problems that have caused chronic acne are deeper, beneath the skin's surface and that only a mild washing of the face is in order, often accompanied with specific solutions prescribed for treating the acne by a dermatologist. Vigorous washing of the face, particularly with harsh soaps, can lead to a further irritation of the tissue. There is, in part, a bacteriological condition that contributes to acne and it is below the surface.

Another idea is that acne is caused by stress. Scientific research seems to indicate that stress alone probably does not lead to acne, but it may be aggravated by stress. But, unfortunately, acne can result from certain prescriptions that are used to treat stress. So, if you are on certain drugs related to stress, you should certain talk to your dermatologist, the appropriate type of physician for dealing with this problem. According to Doctor James Fulton, a pioneer in the treatment of acne, lithium, a substance sometimes used in profound psychological disorders,  can aggravate an acne condition.

Another myth that can lead to profoundly unpleasant consequences is that one should let acne run its course, "grow out of it." As I myself know too well, acne can linger for years and get worse and worse. At the end of my experience, my acne was very disfiguring and covered my whole face and part of my neck. It was hard to keep my hands off this uncomfortable, scaly, itchy and sore condition.  I was certainly a candidate for scarring. I had a kind of skin emergency and I am glad that my parents were smart enough and lucky enough to get me to the right place at the right time.

Can acne be the consequence of poor nutrition? I think the jury may be out on this one, but, for myself, I came to believe that my excessive eating of chocolate and a lot of sugar products were contributing factors to my acne. But, in my case, I did not see any correlation before my medical treatment and it was clearly medical intervention that helped me. There are certainly many naturopathically oriented practitioners and some medical doctors that share this view, though. Not everything in medicine is a hundred percent clear cut and every acne victim should certainly research all the alternatives.


By George ForganSmith
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