Could acne treatments be causing acne?

July 26, 2019

There’s a reason why Dr. Pimple Popper of TLC and YouTube fame gets almost 5 million views per video or show.

As Dr. Amy Wechsler, a New York physician who is board-certified in both dermatology and psychiatry, recently told the TODAY Show audience, “There are so many people out there who like to pop their own pimples—they’re usually smaller than the ones that are on these videos—and they get satisfaction out of seeing something come out from the body that they feel like doesn’t belong.”

In fact, a recent story in Medium’s health section, Elemental, reports that acne appears to be “more prevalent than ever”—among both teens and adults.

The Elemental story also cites a statistic from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: Roughly one-third of adult women have acne, while only one in five men do.

Could that be attributed to the fact that many women have more complicated skin care routines—involving the application of multiple over-the-counter and prescription acne medications?

The dermatologists with whom author Markham Heid spoke for the article suggested that some of the most common and popular acne medications, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, might in fact be affecting the skin microbiome in such a way that acne bacteria is then encouraged to flourish.

Harsh cleansers might do the same thing, they said, as might certain antibiotics and foods. “What we put on our skin can improve or disrupt the survival of these [skin] microorganisms,” said one dermatologist.

“This is something we didn’t know before, but we’re paying attention to now.”

So maybe your next skincare routine should be … just water?

Research contact: @Medium

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