What’s Wrong with Dermatology Advice on the Internet?

Dermatology advice on the internet is expansive, with varying opinions around preventative skincare—anything preventive means making choices now that impact the skin’s appearance later. Lifestyle choices, including foods you eat, affect the appearance of the skin, but so do the environment and stress.

However, remember that there is no regulation of who can advise on what topic on the internet or social media. Since the internet does not discriminate between good and lousy skincare advice, finding a licensed professional allows the myths to be sifted out and the truth to rise to the top of the pile of information available.

Preventative dermatology is important because lifestyle choices can significantly impact overall health, including the appearance and health of the skin. As social media provides a platform to give advice, regardless of background or qualifications, the number of untruths regarding skincare is rising. Four repeated misconceptions are worth addressing.

Natural Is NOT Always Better

The first misconception on the internet is that if it is natural, it is better. However, natural is so broad, and the definition can vary greatly. Countless things can qualify as natural, but some include ingredients that can be pretty toxic to the skin! So, once again, the internet uses vague and broad definitions to be all-inclusive when it should not. There are good and not-so-good natural things. Examples are coconut oil and poison ivy. Both are natural. However, one is good, and one is terrible!

Oils, like coconut oil, have been shown to repair skin and increase the protective barrier. However, although excellent for cooking, olive oil can damage the skin’s barrier and increase sunburn susceptibility. Poison ivy goes without explanation since the result of encountering that natural thing causes great discomfort to everyone.

Anyone looking to enhance the skin’s appearance should not just assume natural is better. Instead, it is vital to research what ingredients are deemed natural by the promoter and the product. Allergies and skin types are significant when choosing the best products for your skin. Consulting with a licensed dermatologist can help identify skin types and address skin concerns, making professional product suggestions for clients.

Beware of Hypoallergenic

The second oversold misconception of internet dermatology is how hypoallergenic products are best for those with sensitive skin. Hypo-allergenic does not mean it will not cause allergies! Many hypoallergenic products still contain the common irritants of formaldehyde and fragrance. A dermatologist can direct clients to find products that do not have high allergen ingredients. Be aware that the term hypoallergenic is overused and only means lower allergens, not their absence!

Supplements, Supplements, Supplements

The third misconception convincingly marketed on the internet regarding dermatology is that supplements for hair, nails, and skin are necessary and helpful. Some of these products, since supplements are not regulated, can cause harm to the skin and body. The nation’s supplement regulations are barely existent and are not enforced until a problem arises. Many supplements have ingredients that are terrible for our skin and bodies. Supplements, in too high of doses, can cause harm to the body. The food we ingest should provide most of the vitamins we need. However, many people self-diagnose and adding supplements overwhelms their bodies. Excessive doses of anything can throw the body for a loop, so do not just start taking supplements because someone blogs about how that supplement helped them fight sickness.

When using supplements, only choose those that have research data that shows using it is safe, effective, and that it doesn’t cause reactions with other drugs.

Diet Isn’t Innocent or Entirely Guilty

One clear thing about social media and internet advice on dermatology is extremes. People love to post extreme opinions; some are so convincing that you might get in the car right then to get the product they are promoting. Before you do that, please STOP, and know that diet is not the sole cause of skin conditions and does not provide a cure for all skin conditions. Individual genetic and medical profiles, skin type, and condition can’t be overlooked when choosing foods that may or may not affect the skin’s appearance.

Changing foods that are likely to cause skin reactions can provide some benefits. Some foods have been linked to certain skin conditions, so there is some value to the research on these foods. However, chronic skin conditions require treatment plans from a licensed and reputable dermatologist.

A professional dermatologist is licensed in their field, and the best ones continue their education to provide the most current and accurate diagnoses and treatments for skincare. If you have concerns about your skin’s appearance and what you see on the internet doesn’t make sense, contact a local dermatologist who will be happy to meet with you and dispel any myths and misconceptions about internet dermatology.