Don’t get me started on the advice I have got for my acne. From family members to random strangers on the street they all know what cures acne. Except of course dumb old me, who just loves having acne. Even one of my old neighbours told everyone who would listen to him to tell the girl with pimples to put toothpaste on them. Just unbelievable!!! It was as if my having acne magically gave people around me a medical degree.
It would have been alright if these pieces of advice were harmless or even somewhat helpful. For example the “Drink a lot of water” while not being a cure for acne will actually help your body. At the most it might not do anything. The truth is most of these are actually harmful to you and your skin.
What annoys me most is that the people giving the advice most often have no experience with acne. If they do, it is because they have healed the one or two acne, they or someone they know, have got over their lifetime. More often than not it’s simply something they have heard somewhere else. They have never struggled with acne and have no idea what people who struggle with acne for months or even years deal with.
The problem with this is that a person with acne is desperate for any cure. They are ready to try anything in the hope that it helps them even a little bit. Come on, all of us suffering from acne have been in this place sometime or the other, where we’re so desperate we’ll try anything. This desperation blinds us to the fact that this advice while it may not heal us could actually worsen acne.
So let me break down some of the pieces of advice regarding acne and tell you what is bad about them and how they can make your skin worse without healing your acne.
1. Apply a little toothpaste on it
This is a common piece of advice which I first heard from a neighbour, when I was having the worst attack of cystic acne. During the next few years I saw it in articles sometimes proudly titled under “Unconventional Treatments for Acne that Actually Work”. The principle behind this is that ingredients in the toothpaste will dry out acne. I have 2 problems with this one. First if it does work, you have to spend the rest of your life applying toothpaste on your skin. You are not targeting the core reason why you are getting acne, you are just drying them out as they come. Besides getting acne again and again, you will still have scars from the acne.
Second you will be irritating your skin and the skin around the acne. Imagine there is a fire in your house. A small one. Say a candle fell over and the newspaper next to it caught fire as well. What do you do? Pretty sure you’re not going to go looking for diesel or petrol to put out the fire. You’re going to run to the bathroom to get water to put it out. Because water is what will put out the fire.
Putting toothpaste on red, cystic acne is like putting diesel on a fire. All you are doing is giving it fuel to get further irritated and spread. From my years fighting acne one thing I figured out is that acne needs to be treated gently. Try using harsh treatments and you’ll be setting yourself up for further problems.
2. Just get some sun. The Sun will dry them out
Again this works under the premise that acne is something that needs to be dried out. While getting a little sun is beneficial for skin and the body, it is not going to heal acne. People with acne who act upon this advice and stay in the sun too long risk getting burned and harming their skin even further. People who give this advice often do not realise that the person having a lot of acne is already physically uncomfortable as the acne actually sting and physically hurt. Imagine standing in the sun when you are this uncomfortable.
Go out in the sun as normal, but don’t for one minute believe that it is going to heal your acne or can heal your acne. Use a good sunscreen or a big hat to protect yourself, especially if you are going out during the peak hours between 11 AM to 3 PM.
3. Wash your face more often
This advice comes from the misconception that acne is caused by dirt or poor hygiene. Also another notion is that oily skin causes acne. While acne is caused by the oil being trapped, the oil itself is not the problem. It is the blocked pore that traps the oil that causes acne. Acne cannot be washed away. Washing your face more often, trying to get rid of acne, is just drying out your skin. Dry skin while having acne is no joke let me tell you. Dry skin while adding to your acne problems looks dull and unhealthy. The reason we want to get rid of acne is to have better skin and not dry unhealthy skin.
4. Pop that pimple
I am not sure where this piece of advice originated from but I have a theory. Acne is seen as a boil that needs draining. So basically people think there is bad stuff inside which needs to be removed. While the part of bad stuff is true, trying to drain it spreads the infection deeper into the skin creating more acne. The process of pressing the skin traumatises the delicate facial skin and leaves you with deep scars.
Also this is again not curing the acne neither is it making it better. Like the toothpaste advice are you going to spend the rest of your life traumatising your face in this way every time you get acne?
5. Don’t worry too much, it’s just a few pimples
People who do not have acne think that people who do make a big deal about it. While this advice may be coming from a good place, it’s not helpful. Acne is already a killer on confidence and self esteem. People who have acne sometimes want to isolate themselves and not go out as they feel self conscious in public because of their acne. All of us who have acne have felt like this at one point or the other. Telling that person they’re worrying for nothing is not helpful. It’s telling them that they are getting upset over nothing. Acne is not nothing. Acne is real and the feelings that arise because of it are very real. Being concerned about acne is completely normal. Do what you need to do to get rid of your acne. You have every right to get upset over it. However make sure you channel the worry you feel into trying to build your confidence and not trying to hide away.
6. Stop wearing makeup
The people who generally give advice about acne are the ones who generally know the least about it. If makeup gives a person with acne a confidence boost so they can go out and face the world they should do it. Makeup does not cause acne, no matter what the people around you may say. Acne is caused by dead skin cells hanging around on your face and blocking your pores. Even if you go makeup free for a month or 3 it is not going to clear your acne. Just make sure you take the makeup off once you are home.
Now just because makeup does not cause acne does not mean you rush out and buy some crappy makeup. Or worse use the makeup in the bottom of your makeup drawer that has been lying there for years. Make sure you use good makeup. It’s still your face and you need to take care of it.
7. Apply lemon juice on your face
So let me be honest here. This piece of advice is actually a little bit helpful. However applying undiluted lemon juice on your face when you have cystic acne is again like trying to put out a fire with diesel. Lemon is an acid. When you accidentally touch lemon when you have a cut on your finger it burns and stings like crazy. Try doing the same on the delicate skin of your face when you have acne and you will be in agony.
Save this one for when your acne has healed or is healing and make sure you dilute it first and use it with a soothing medium like avocado, milk or honey.
Comment below and tell me what advice you have got that seemed to be little out there.