Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Acne: Myth vs. Fact

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Acne: Myth vs. Fact

Article excerpt

About 80% of teens get the skin condition called acne, according to a national survey (Ritvo et al. 2011). "Most teenagers with acne [55%] thought [it] was the most difficult aspect of puberty," the report said. "Teenagers with acne reported lower self-confidence or shyness, difficulty finding dates, problems making friends, [and] challenges with school."

What causes acne?

Pores contain sebaceous glands near hair follicles that make an oily lipid mixture called sebum, consisting of esters of glycerol, wax, and cholesterol, as well as squalene and fatty acids. Sebum helps lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair and helps blocks germs from entering the body.

During puberty, hormones stimulate sebaceous glands to make more sebum, which can trap dead skin cells and clog pores. Bacteria can get trapped in clogged pores and multiply. This causes swelling and redness, which is the start of acne.

A clogged pore that closes and bulges from the skin creates a whitehead. A clogged pore that stays open creates a blackhead as the top surface oxidizes and darkens.

If the wall of the pore opens, allowing sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells to get under the skin, it creates a pimple. Some pimples have a pus-filled top due to the bacterial infection.

Clogged pores that open deep in the skin can cause nodules, which are infected, painful lumps or cysts.

Separating myth from fact

Myths about acne abound, including some "remedies" that do more harm than good, says Neil Izenberg, pediatrician and founder of He recommends dispelling misconceptions with the facts:

Myth: Tanning clears up skin.


Fact: There's no link between sun exposure and acne prevention. While a tan may make acne more difficult to see, ultraviolet exposure can make skin dry and irritated, leading to more acne breakouts and increasing the risk of melanoma.

Myth: Washing your face frequently helps prevent acne.

Fact: Washing the face helps remove dirt and oil from pores, but washing too much can cause dryness and irritation and, in turn, more breakouts. Scrubbing the face can irritate skin, too. Teens should generally wash their faces twice a day with mild soap and water and anytime after sweating. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.