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13 Fun and Fascinating Acne Facts

Do you remember the first time you woke up to an acne breakout or other skin problem? You likely felt like you were the only one in the world with an acne breakout.

Caucasian woman with brown hair and brown eyes is holding a magnifying glass to zoom in on her acne on her cheek.

However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually.

In this article, we will discuss what acne is, fun acne facts, and even some surprising myths that have been debunked over the years.

What is Acne?

The National Institute of Arthritic and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines acne, or acne vulgaris, as a disorder of the hair follicles and oil glands (sebaceous glands). The sebaceous glands secrete oils to keep the skin moist. When the glands and hair follicles under the skin get clogged, it can lead to pimples, blackheads, cysts, and more.

Facts About Acne & Myths!

With skin conditions unique to everyone, here are some interesting facts and myths to help you understand more about what may be affecting your skin and treatment options. Hint: it may be your diet and stress!

1. Myth: Poor Skin Hygiene Causes Acne

Myth: Acne develops when pores become clogged. This can happen with excess or high production of oil, buildup of dead skin cells, or growth of bacteria in the pore.

Woman with dark curly hair is standing in front of the mirror with a towel wrapped around her, touching and looking slightly concerned about her face.

Acne is not caused by forgetting to wash your face (or body), but regularly cleansing your face can be a key step in reducing hair follicles from becoming blocked, which should reduce the number of breakouts, whiteheads, and blackheads that may form.

2. Oily Skin Can Lead to Acne

Fact: Oily skin happens when the sebaceous glands in the skin make more sebum than needed, which can lead to acne. It can also cause hair follicles to become clogged and cause acne breakouts, as explained by Medical News Today.

3. Myth: Acne Affects Only Teenagers

Myth: Acne can affect anyone, at any stage in life. Sometimes acne can develop into your 30s, 40s, and even 50s!

Acne is common during the teen years due to hormonal changes, but it can affect any gender, range, age, and ethnicity.

4. The Food You Eat Can Worsen Acne Breakouts

Fact: Your diet may make your acne worse depending on if your diet consists of certain foods. Soda, white bread, white rice, and dairy products have been proven to irritate acne. The theory is that the sugar and carbohydrates in these foods can worsen acne breakouts, but it may differ from person to person on what triggers breakouts.

Burger and fries in a science lab with a scientist in the blurred background looking into a microscope

5. Myth: All Types of Acne Can Be Healed With Home Remedies

Myth: Individuals may need to see a healthcare professional for the treatment of acne, depending on the severity or type they have. Cystic acne for example may need to be treated by a dermatologist.

Cystic acne is when an individual develops yellow pus-filled lesions or acne cysts deep under the skin. A medical professional should treat cystic acne to reduce the risk of acne scars and infection.

6. Sweat Can Cause Acne Breakouts

Fact: Sweat can clog pores and make it easier for bacteria to grow and cause pimples. It can even lead to pimples getting infected (ouch)!

Cleansing your skin using a mild soap that is also oil-free after working out will help remove the dead skin cells from your skin.

Younger boy standing outside, drenched in sweat holding a water bottle with his arm across his forehead.

7. Hormonal Factors Can Cause Acne

Fact: Fluctuation in hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can cause pimples and other skin conditions. Stress can also trigger other hormonal changes that may cause acne.

Caucasian woman with red hair standing in a field with her pregnant belly.

8. Myth: Family History Means You Will Have Acne

Myth: Although a family history of acne may increase your chances of having acne or other skin conditions, it does not mean you are guaranteed to.

9. Makeup Products Can Cause Acne

Fact: To combat this, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your face twice a day with a mild cleanser and regularly cleaning your brushes to prevent other bacteria from forming.

Up close image of woman covering up acne blemishes on her face with concealer and a small makeup brush.

It is also important to choose your makeup products carefully since some can contain potential irritants. According to WebMD, mineral oils in makeup and skincare were previously thought to cause acne but have since been debunked.

10. Myth: There Are No Over-the-Counter (OTC) Treatments That Work

Myth. Many people find success with OTC oral and topical medications, but often it takes time and trying different combinations and types to find what works best for your skin. It can also depend on your skin type and immediate results are not guaranteed.

A black male wearing a white plush robe, bending over his white sink, washing his face.

11. Acne Can Only Happen On The Face

Myth: Pimples can present in various areas of the body, even on the back and chest.

12. A Primary Care Provider (PCP) and Dermatologist Are the Same

Over-cleansing or over-exfoliating can cause your skin to breakout, since it irritates your skin and causes it to dry out.

13. Myth: Dermatologists specialize in the treatment of skin diseases and have additional advanced training beyond medical school

Male doctor is checking a female patient's skin.

Health care professionals, like a dermatologist, can use a combination of prescription-grade topical medication, oral medication, and even OTC products for acne treatments. Dermatologists can treat severe acne, blackheads, and other more serious conditions of the skin. They may use a combination of the following:

  • Antibiotics: Can help reduce bacteria
  • Resorcinol: Help break down blackheads and whiteheads
  • Retinoid: Can help with whiteheads and blackheads
  • Corticosteroids: Can help lower inflammation in severe acne
  • Salicylic AcidHelp prevent pores from becoming clogged

Certain medications may not be compatible with one another and create more acne irritation, so it is always important to let your doctor know all OTC medications you are taking.

It is also important to not over-cleanse and try too many different skin products at once. This can strip your skin of all its natural oil and therefore make you produce more oil, which can cause the blockage of the hair follicle and wreck havoc on your skin.

Caucasian woman is winking with an a-ok sign with her hands with a clear face


If you have battled acne your entire life or just have an occasional breakout, there are many benefits to understanding what acne is and how to treat it. If OTC remedies do not work, scheduling an appointment with a health care professional can save time and stress when dealing with your specific skin condition.

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