Common Dermatology Myths About Your Skin

Dermatology Myths
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It is common these days, especially with the internet and social media, to get caught up in false information about skin and skin care. Here, we will review some common dermatology myths and discuss why they are simply myths.

Myth #1: If I’m in the shade or it’s a cloudy day, I can’t burn

False!  This is completely untrue. Regardless of your exposure to direct sunlight, you are still exposed to UV (ultraviolet) rays.Therefore, it is still extremely possible to burn. Even if you are planning to be at the beach, for example, under an umbrella, you should still wear SPF 30 or greater. The same principle applies to cloudy days.

Myth #2: Is SPF higher than 30 really better?

It is true that the sun protection provided by your sunscreen will increase along with the SPF (sun protection factor) rating. However, the added benefit as the SPF number increases does NOT increase proportionately with the amount of sun protection. In other words, there is a greater amount of protection going from SPF 30 to SPF 50 than going from SPF 50 to SPF 70. On a daily basis, a sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage at an SPF of at least 30 is recommended.This will cover the majority of harmful UV exposure. Also, keep in mind that in order to truly achieve the SPF rating listed on your sunscreen container, you must apply the proper amount of sunscreen to your skin.   The industry standard measurement is 2mg/cm^2,which means that we should apply ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen to our faces, based on the average adult. This is more than you think!

Myth #3: If my SPF is at least a 30, the ingredients don’t matter

Not true!  In fact, SPF only indicates the protection your sunscreen will provide against UVB rays. There are also UVA and UVC rays, which can contribute to skin cancer and aging. UVC is filtered out by the earth’s atmosphere, but UVA is a prominent risk for us. Your sunscreen must contain ingredients that filter out UVA as well as UVB rays. The best broad-spectrum ingredient that filters out both of these is zinc oxide, which protects against the entire UVA and UVB spectrum. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical UV blockers, as opposed to chemical protectors, such as avobenzone or homosalate. These chemical ingredients absorb UV rays, while physical/mineral ingredients reflect UV rays. Chemical sunscreen ingredients can be absorbed into the skin, causing damage over time. They have also been implicated in the destruction of coral reefs as they wash off from our skin in the ocean. Moral of the story: you should not only pay attention to the SPF number on your sunscreen, but should also be aware of the ingredients! 

Myth #4: Eating chocolate or fried/fatty foods causes acne

Although certain people can develop acne-like lesions if they have a specific sensitivity to certain foods, there has been no proven relationship between food and acne. This has, in fact, been studied extensively, without a clear relationship applicable to the general population. That being said, as always, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle in general.

Myth #5: I shouldn’t moisturize my skin if I have acne

It is important to maintain a balanced level of moisture in the skin – even in acne-prone skin.  While it seems counter-intuitive, even oily skin may need moisturizer. In fact, the inflammation associated with excessively dry skin can trigger acne to worsen. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that acne medications are often drying, thereby creating even more of a need for moisturizer.

Myth #6: Popping pimples is a good idea

Wrong! Popping pimples is a bad idea! These lesions will likely resolve on their own, and “popping” them can cause increased inflammation, leading to scarring or pigment change. If you have a particularly frustrating pimple/cyst, or you have an event coming up and you suddenly have broken out, you can always make an appointment with your dermatologist to have these lesions injected with a dilute cortisone to help them resolve quickly. 

Myth #7: Filler is permanent

Quite the contrary! There are certain fillers that are permanent or semi-permanent(like Bellafill, which lasts up to 5 years). However, the majority of fillers (Juvederm, Restylane) are dissolvable with the simple injection of an enzyme,which should be readily available in any dermatology office. Of course, when injected by a board-certified dermatologist, the need for this should be rare –but it is certainly comforting to know that dissolving the filler is possible should the need arise! 

Myth #8: There is no skin cream that can help my wrinkles

In fact, there is! Tretinoin (or Retin-a) can actually improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles when used regularly over time. It has also been shown to decrease oil production, shrink pore size, lighten dark spots, and stimulate collagen production. This cream/gel is applied at nighttime before bed, as it is inactivated by the sun. Side effects include dryness (moisturizer can be used in conjunction) and increased sun sensitivity (sunscreen should be used daily and reapplied when sweating, swimming, or exposed for longer than 80 minutes).  Additionally, tretinoin should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding. 

We hope this information helps you to better understand your skin and how to take great care of it! Keep in mind that if you ever have questions, your dermatologist will be happy to answer them for you so that you can be sure the information you’re getting is accurate!