For some, the word “acne” drudges up memories of pimple-prone teen years and blemishes of decades past. For others, it’s an all-too-common affliction that follows them into adulthood. Whether you’re prone to the occasional breakout or you’ve been battling acne for longer than you’d like to admit, you’ve heard plenty of theories about causes. And while many of these are just myths — a precious few do turn out to be true.
Dr. Emmy Graber, a dermatologist at Boston Medical Center, helps separate fact from fiction in the above video from the web series #OWNSHOW. In it, she reveals three supposed “myths” that actually aren’t myths at all.
1. Stress causes acne in everyone.
It’s true. Though some might like to dismiss the connection between stress and skin, Graber says it does indeed exist. Not only that, but even people with typically clear skin can find themselves fighting a flare-up when they come under stress. “We do know that stress can cause breakouts in people who don’t normally have acne-prone skin,” she explains. “In people who already have acne, stress can make it worse.”
2. Eating pizza can cause acne.
Step away from the slice. It’s a favorite food among many, but pizza can be another acne-causing culprit. “We used to tell our patients that that was not true, however, there are some new studies that suggest that it may be true for some people,” Graber says. “There’s new evidence that shows that foods that have a high glycemic index such as carbohydrates — your white rices, your white breads, such as pizza crust — may cause acne for some people.
3. Stress-related breakouts are different from other types of acne.
If you’ve ever sensed that your stress-induced breakout felt different than another bout of acne, you’re not imagining things. “People who experience breakouts during times of stress do describe their breakouts to be more tender, maybe feel like they’re a little bit deeper underneath the skin,” Graber says.
Stress doesn’t just cause acne. Watch Dr. Graber explain what other full-body skin condition is triggered by stress and what you can do to treat it.