Does eating chocolate really lead to acne? Can washing your hair too frequently cause baldness?There are many misconceptions about skincare and the treatment of skin conditions. At Dermatology Partners of the North Shore, our dermatologists receive questions similar to these on a regular basis. Below, Dr. Nicole Huffman, MD, answers some of the most frequently asked questions and puts to rest a few well-known dermatology myths.
Dr. Nicole P. Huffman, MD
Dr. Huffman is a board-certified dermatologist who joined Dermatology Partners of the North Shore in 2012 and became a partner in 2017. She is on the medical staff of NorthShore University Health System, a diplomat of the American Board of Dermatology, and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
How often should you visit the dermatologist? I would say it depends on family history and on your personal history. In general, a routine check once a year is your best bet. However, specific conditions can affect how often you see a dermatologist. For example, a patient can be seen three or four times per year if they have a strong history of skin cancer. For other conditions, it varies based on the details and the treatment. The best plan is to ask your dermatologist how many visits he or she recommends for your specific condition.
Anti-Aging When should you start anti-aging treatment?
It’s never too early to start. My recommendation is to begin in your 20s. Depending on your skin, some options for anti-aging treatments are a good retinoid, vitamin C serum, or some peptides. There’s really no disadvantage other than the possibility of a little irritation, so it’s best to start before you have the wrinkles.
What are some options for anti-aging treatments if retinoids irritate your skin? I fall in that category myself. It's hard for me to use a retinoid, so I love a good vitamin C serum. As mentioned, peptides can be a great addition to your routine if retinol causes irritation. I would also recommend trying procedural treatments like a HydraFacial a couple of times per year. Another good example is BBL treatment, which can help to reduce dark spots and redness and it actually helps to build collagen. Acne Should you ever pop a pimple? My top answer would be: No, don’t do that. But if you absolutely must pop a pimple, I would say at least don't do it with your fingers. My suggestion is to take two Q-tips and use them to apply a little pressure. If you are applying enough pressure to break the Q-tip, then you’re going too strong.
Does eating chocolate or fried foods cause acne? The answer is yes. For years it was just an old wives’ tale, but there is new literature that proves that some foods can be pro-inflammatory. Foods that fall into this category are high glycemic and high sugar foods, which includes chocolate, dairy products, and red meats. My recommendation to patients who are experiencing a lot of inflammatory acne is to try to stay away from these foods.
What are some treatment options that a dermatologist can suggest for acne if your over-the-counter products aren't working?
There are a lot of products on the market and new products are coming out nearly monthly. I would start by getting evaluated by your dermatologist because everyone’s acne is different. Acne differs so much from one person to the next, even amongst siblings, and different treatment options are required for different acne types. I would suggest a visit to your dermatologist so you can get a treatment regimen tailored specifically to the type of acne that you have.
Scalp and Hair
Does washing your hair too frequently cause hair loss? I get this question all the time. If your hair is going to fall out, it's going to happen no matter what. In general, patients don’t need to be worried about washing or brushing their hair. However, you may lose additional hair if you are being incredibly aggressive while washing, but regular washing will not cause additional hair loss.