It’s amazing that there are still so many myths about acne. It seems the more information, the more confusion, which only adds to the frustration and anxiety of many people affected by acne. 

Despite the range of safe and effective acne treatments available, it seems now more than ever, people with acne are opting for ‘quick fixes’ with unproven remedies, without even consulting a qualified health professional. 

Here, some of Australia’s leading skin doctors help you to separate the facts from the fiction.

Acne is caused by poor hygiene

Acne happens when the oil glands (pores) in the skin become blocked. Hormones make the oil glands produce more oil (sebum) and if the pores are blocked, a build-up occurs and you've got acne. It is not caused by poor hygiene, however keeping your skin clean will help acne. 

Blackheads are just dirt. You can wash acne away

You can't wash acne away!  If you scrub your face too much, it can irritate your skin and trigger inflammation like redness and swelling.   Potentially, this can also make your acne worse! 

Picking and squeezing pimples is OK

Don't do it! Picking and squeezing pimples quickly and visibly worsens acne.  It leads to more and deeper inflammation.  You also risk acne scars. 

Eating chocolate causes acne

No - chocolate doesn't cause acne! Although diet is important, in many cases having a good diet alone will not 'cure' acne. 

Eating too much junk food or drinking too much soft drink can cause acne

Although a balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables will provide the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health, having a balanced diet will not in itself clear your skin and 'cure' your acne. 

Make-up and moisturisers won't make acne worse

Some particular face moisturisers or make-up can make acne worse. Oil-based foundation can make acne worse. A silicone-based foundation is better for people with acne prone skin. 

Too much, or too little sex makes acne worse

Acne has no connection between too much or too little sex.

Masturbation causes acne or makes acne worse

Masturbation will not cause acne or make acne worse.

Using lots of over-the-counter acne medication containing active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid will improve acne.

Wrong. Using too much of these acne treatments can actually worsen acne because it can lead to dryness, irritation and more blemishes. Follow instructions.

Sunlight, sun-baking or solariums will improve acne

Sun exposure can cause inflamed spots to turn dark brown. It will also cause premature wrinkles, other signs of aged skin, skin growths and skin cancers. Although some people with acne notice a small improvement in their acne during summer, the benefits of extra exposure to sunlight are at best small, while the risks are large. 

Sweat from exercise causes acne

Not true - although it is always a good idea to cleanse your face after hot, sweaty activities. 

Acne is caused by allergies

There is no evidence that acne has any connection with any allergic reactions you may have. 

Acne is contagious

Acne cannot be 'caught' or transmitted from one person to another. Touching a pimple and then touching someone else on the skin will not increase their chances of forming a pimple.

Stress doesn't contribute to acne

Periods of increased stress can often be linked to new outbreaks of pimples or worsening acne. 

For women, acne outbreaks can't be blamed on getting a period

Not true. Many females notice their acne worsens just before their period. This is due to changes in female sex hormones which can contribute to the blockage and inflammation of the pore. 

Pregnancy will help acne

Not true. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or with stopping or starting oral contraceptives can cause acne in some people. 

Acne is not hereditary

Not true! Some traits do 'run in the family'. Studies show that the likelihood of acne is greater in people whose parents or siblings have also had acne.

Some prescribed medications won't make acne worse

Some prescribed medications may aggravate or trigger acne. A doctor or pharmacist can advice you on this. 

Steroids won't cause acne

Anabolic steroids illicitly used for bodybuilding often cause acne and are linked to more severe forms of acne seen in some men. 

Acne is caused by too many hormones 

The vast majority of acne cases are in people with perfectly normal hormone levels.