Our Essex skin expert shines a ‘spot’light on acne myths

Young woman looks at a river. Suffering with acne? Call Sue Ibrahim at Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex for help and advice.

Suffering with acne? Call Sue Ibrahim at Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex for help and advice.

Despite being one of the most widespread skin conditions affecting teenagers AND adult men and women, acne is one of the most poorly understood. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding acne and its causes. In this month’s blog, our skin expert and nurse consultant in dermatology, Sue Ibrahim, helps separate fact from fiction.

Myth: A poor diet high in fat and dairy causes acne

Scientific research has not found any foods that directly cause acne, so far. However, eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for your overall health and wellbeing.

Myth: Acne is caused by having dirty skin and poor hygiene

NHS scientists suggest that most of the biological reactions that trigger acne occur beneath the skin, not on the surface, so the cleanliness of your skin has no effect on your acne. And Sue says that washing your face more than twice a day could actually aggravate your skin.

Myth: Squeezing spots gets rid of acne

Although tempting, squeezing spots, blackheads or whiteheads can actually make your acne symptoms worse – and may leave you with scarring. Here are some of the acne treatments that we may recommend at Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Rayleigh Essex:

  1. Prescription medications to reduce the outbreak of spots
  2. Elan Medical Skin Systems for acne
  3. LED Phototherapy to reduce facial redness
  4. Elan Medical Skin Peels for superficial blemishes and scars
  5. Intralesional Cyst Injections
  6. Fractional Skin Resurfacing for deep acne scars
  7. Surgical scar revision

Myth: Acne is infectious

This is a particularly nasty and hurtful myth that’s totally incorrect. You cannot pass acne to other people or catch it from close contact with someone with acne. The psychological effects of acne are often underestimated by GPs and friends and those affected can suffer from reduced self-esteem and confidence issues.

What causes acne?

The British Association of Dermatologists has a very helpful leaflet about acne, which explains:

The sebaceous (oil-producing) glands of people who get acne are particularly sensitive to normal blood levels of certain hormones, which are present in both men and women. These cause the glands to produce an excess of oil. At the same time, the dead skin cells lining the pores are not shed properly and clog up the follicles. These two effects result in a build up of oil, producing blackheads (where a darkened plug of oil and dead skin is visible) and whiteheads.

The acne bacterium (known as Propionibacterium acnes) lives on everyone’s skin, usually causing no problems, but in those prone to acne, the build-up of oil creates an ideal environment in which these bacteria can multiply. This triggers inflammation and the formation of red or pus-filled spots.

Click here to read the full leaflet


Teenage acne is thought to be triggered by increased levels of testosterone, which occurs during puberty. The hormone plays an important role in stimulating the growth and development of the penis and testicles in boys, and maintaining muscle and bone strength in girls.

The sebaceous glands are particularly sensitive to hormones. It’s thought that increased levels of testosterone cause the glands to produce much more sebum than the skin needs.

We can help

If you suffer from acne, get advice early – please don’t suffer in silence. If you would like to ask our medical director & nurse consultant, Sue Ibrahim a question, by all means do. We provide a responsive service that aims to set your mind at ease and ensure you are fully informed before booking your consultation. At Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex, all new patients receive a thorough consultation and medical assessment prior to treatment.