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The Truth About Acne

Por Violeta Chacón, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ -

Frequently, we hear someone say: “Don’t eat that chocolate or you will get a pimple!”  However, there are other factors that determine the severity of acne. A combination of elements, such as hormonal changes during puberty and pregnancy, hereditary factors, certain medications, and oily cosmetics can worsen acne by clogging the skin’s pores.

Acne is a very common condition of the skin that affects people of all ages. Most teenagers experience this problem, since there are many hormonal changes during this life stage that stimulate the production of oil in the skin. For unknown reasons, skin pores become clogged, thus trapping dirt and oil, which results in the multiplication of bacteria that cause acne. This causes the formation of painful pimples and an unpleasant appearance on the skin.   

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has clarified some myths about this disorder. Here are some of the most popular beliefs:  

  • Acne is caused by poor hygiene:  Acne is not caused by dirt on the surface of the skin. Washing your face aggressively and frequently can actually worsen the problem. The best approach is to wash your face gently twice a day with a mild soap.
  • Acne is caused by emotional stress:   According to the AAD, stress is not an important factor in acne. However, some of the medications prescribed for severe stress could cause acne as a side effect.

  • Acne is only a cosmetic problem:  Acne doesn’t just affect the way people look; it can also affect the way people feel about themselves and their self-esteem. In England, a couple of researchers, Motley and Finlay, offered a group of 100 people with acne to choose between two options: receiving money or an acne treatment.   Eighty-seven percent chose the acne treatment. This demonstrates how significantly acne affects people’s quality of life.
  • Acne is caused by diet:  There are many misconceptions about the influence of different foods on acne, such as chocolate, sodas, peanuts, pizza,and french fries.  Scientific studies have not found a direct connection between a person’s diet and acne. The AAD states that if a person receives an adequate treatment, he/she should not worry about food affecting acne. Nevertheless, we know the previously mentioned foods should be eaten in moderation, since they are high in fat and sugar. 

Healthy skin is not something you should take for granted.  The AAD says all acne cases have a solution. Eating a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy skin. It is also important to protect your skin from sun damage, avoid smoking, and be careful with the use of abrasive soaps to wash your face. 


AcneNet, A comprehensive acne information resource. (2008). American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved in September, 2008 from: 

Motley R, Finlay A. “How much disability is caused by acne?” Clin Exp Dermatol. May 1989; 14 (3): 194-8


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