Although this is going to sound like an obscure Buzzfeed article, there are many things we should not be saying to people with acne, one of the most awkward skin conditions of many people’s teenage years. Whilst many people first start getting acne, a skin condition that causes a large number of spots anywhere from your face to your back, between the ages of 11-13, the condition is no less important now. Acne can extend far into your twenties, and even for many years after that, with 50% of women aged 20-29 having acne. Although the spots tend to get less frequent in your late teenage years and early adulthood, many people are still using medication for acne into their twenties.
Many people might pass off acne as just a ‘spot outbreak’, yet acne is an important condition when considering that much of your adolescence years are influenced greatly by physical appearance. Stemming from the airbrushed, flawless skin represented in the media and heightened by the already scary changes that your body undergoes through puberty, acne can knock confidence, happiness, and even friendships.
“Acne is a hormonal issue, caused by hormones that increase during puberty and cause a usually harmless bacterium… to create spots”.
One of the greatest misconceptions around acne is that it is caused by an unhealthy diet, including chocolate and fast food. No one wants snide comments of ‘You must love McDonald’s’ to follow them through high school, especially when their diet consists of fruit and vegetables, and they hate cheeseburgers. Whilst a poor diet can worsen acne and can affect people in different ways such as causing an occasional outbreak, acne is a hormonal issue, caused by hormones that increase during puberty and cause a usually harmless bacterium, P acnes, to create spots and oily skin. This means that acne is mostly outside of anyone’s control; the health freak down your street that goes jogging every day may have acne, whilst the KFC regular you see every Friday afternoon may not have had acne at all.
Some people also think that acne has some weird correlation to hygiene. It is a complete myth that acne is caused by not washing your face enough, as well as the idea that blackheads are dirt in your pores. Whilst acne may not be aesthetically pleasing, I can assure you that it is ten times worse for the person experiencing it, without people thinking that they should shower more regularly.
Comments to stop wearing make-up and to pop spots are also not very helpful, either. While not taking your make-up off may cause some clogging in your pores, make up itself, when removed properly, shouldn’t affect your skin, if they are noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic. As for popping spots, while they may look displeasing, it is more beneficial not to pop them as this helps them to clear and is less likely to cause scars. Alternatively, if people want to pop their spots, let them. It can be extremely irritating to hear shouts of ‘Don’t pop that spot!’ when all you want to do is remove a pus-filled and painful spot from your chin.
And so whilst we, especially women, continue to go through periods of hormonal changes, and stress (which can exacerbate acne), please be kind to your friends with acne. It is not enjoyable for anyone and can be disheartening when all you hear is the myths and legends.