Acne Fact vs Myth

Fact or Myth

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Acne is a medical condition that can lead to permanent scarring if it is not adequately managed.

Body acne (acne on the back, chest and shoulders) is not very common and will usually clear up on its own.

Managing acne requires following a comprehensive management plan to ensure success.

Any side effect when I first start my acne treatment requires my doctor to immediately switch me to another treatment.

All cases of acne can be resolved by frequent face washing and use of over-the-counter acne products.

Prescription topical acne treatments always contain antibiotics.

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This is a myth.

This is a fact.

Acne is recognized as a skin disorder that often leads to emotional distress and permanent physical scarring on the face, as well as the back and chest. Scarring can affect up to 95% of those with acne, even those with mild acne. It results from the damaging effects of inflammation on the skin during the healing process. Early and effective management of acne, which includes breakout prevention, may help to minimize the chances of scarring. Talk to your doctor about which treatment option is best for you to reduce scarring.

Body acne is also called truncal acne because it appears on the back, shoulders and chest. It is actually quite common. In a US study, over 50% of study participants with facial acne also had body acne. Among those with both face and body acne, only 1 in 4 voluntarily mentioned body acne to their doctor when discussing their concerns. However, body acne can worsen and may also lead to scarring. If you have body acne, talk to your doctor about treatment options that would be best for you.

A comprehensive, tailored plan with consistent application is a must for a successful acne treatment. Apply your topical acne treatment everywhere you have pimples. Remember that more is not better. Applying too much or too often can result in skin irritation. In addition to using your acne treatment as directed, caring for your skin is an important part of acne management. Wash your face with a mild cleanser no more than twice daily, and use a moisturizer, which can help with the irritation caused by acne medications. Sun protection is also very important. Talk to your doctor to put together a plan that's right for you.

Some people may experience side effects such as skin irritation and redness that are common in the beginning. These side effects do not necessarily require stopping the treatment altogether. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you first slowly build up tolerance by using the treatment only every other day or by washing it off a couple of hours after applying it. Using a moisturizer regularly may help with minimizing dryness and irritation.

It is important to know that acne is not caused by dirt or surface oils and that washing your face too often can actually make your acne worse. Different brand-name over-the-counter acne products commonly contain the same active ingredients, such as salicylic acid (e.g., Clean & Clear Advantage® Acne Spot Treatment) and benzoyl peroxide (e.g., Benzagel®, Proactiv®). These products are often used for milder cases of acne when used alone. If they have not worked for you, it is important to talk with your doctor to see if a prescription topical acne treatment is right for you. Learn more about them in our Treatment Options Table.

Not all prescription topical acne treatments contain antibiotics, and not everyone needs antibiotics for their acne. In fact, there are many different types of prescription acne treatments available. Prescription treatments without antibiotics include Aklief® , TactuPump® FORTE, TactuPump®, Tazorac®, Differin® XP™, Differin®, Aczone™, vitamin A acid, Stieva-A®, Retin-A Micro®, and Retin-A®. Treatments also include combination products, which address different causes of acne and may be more convenient to use. Combination products include TactuPump® FORTE, TactuPump®, Clindoxyl® ADV, Clindoxyl®, BenzaClin®, Benzamycin® and Biacna™. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment for you. Find out more about topical acne treatments in our Treatment Options Table.