Keeping Skin Healthy

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Katya Harfmann, M.D.

Q:I know acne is a normal part of puberty, but are there any specifics I should know that could help my teen manage his/her breakouts?

A:Because acne is so common, it becomes the subject of a lot of discussion and several myths. Debunking some of the myths about acne can help your child more easily manage and get through this time.

Myth: Washing your face often prevents breakouts, because acne is caused by dirty skin.Washing the face every day gets rid of dead skin cells, excess oil and surface dirt, and definitely can lead to improvement in acne. Too much cleansing or washing too vigorously can lead to dryness and irritation, though. Gently washing the face twice a day with a mild cleanser is more than enough to keep the face clean.

Myth: Popping pimples makes them go away faster.Popping a zit pushes bacteria further into the skin, further inflaming the skin; it can also cause brown or red marks that last for months, and scars from pimple popping can last forever.

Myth: Junk food causes acne.The foods that may be most linked to acne are those with a high glycemic load (candies, rice, pasta, baked goods made with white flour). Consuming fast food doesn't have a direct impact on skin health, but getting grease from that food on your skin can make an oily complexion worse, clogging pores and leading to a breakout.

Myth: Acne goes away on its own.Several treatments are available to clear acne breakouts and prevent future problems. Acne is caused by clogged pores in the skin, and there are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription treatments available to help unclog pores and clear the skin.

-Katya Harfmann, M.D., is a dermatologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital.