Acne affects millions of Americans each year and more often than not negatively impacts a person’s quality of life. With acne concerning so many, finding the causes of acne and ways to decrease the severity or alleviate it has been an area of interest since the 1800s. Beginning in the 1800s through the early 1900s, many dermatologists believed diet could negatively impact the severity of acne; they believed high sugar diets, specifically diets high in chocolate consumption coupled with a glucose intolerance, would lead to acne. As a result, a restricted carbohydrate, or a low glycemic index diet was recommended with a dermatologist’s medical treatment for acne. However, these dietary modifications were based predominantly on anecdotal evidence. During the 1960s, researchers believed that diet did not play any role in the management of acne.
In recent years, researchers are examining once again how diet could impact acne. To date, one’s diet is not a known cause of acne. However, research suggests that diet may worsen acne symptoms. Through observational studies, milk consumption is shown to be associated with aggravating acne; these studies are unable to identify a possible reason as to what the causes for the worsening symptoms may be. Additionally, due to the studies designs, a recommended milk intake is unknown.
By the same token, other research has been conducted comparing a high glycemic index diet to acne. Glycemic index is a way to measure the extent to which a certain food affects a person’s blood glucose level when compared with a standard such as white bread or table sugar. Examples of high glycemic index foods include: cornflakes, white rice, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Instant oatmeal. Like milk, studies suggest a diet comprised of high glycemic index foods may worsen acne. Yet, no study has found or suggested a definitive glycemic index measurement known to intensify acne symptoms.
With no definitive relationship found between diet and acne, further research will be needed to determine to what extent medical nutrition therapy can play in the treatment of acne. Due to various limitations presented in all of the studies done up to the present time, a change in diet may help a small portion of people who suffer from acne, and diet modifications may be beneficial in conjunction with treatment from a dermatologist of medical physician. However, with no research findings able to suggest to what extent milk and glycemic index should be restricted, it is always best practice to see a registered dietitian before limiting any food groups.
Consistent facials and other treatments can provide relief for acne symptoms and help treat long term affects such as scarring or dark spots. To schedule a consultation with our registered dietitian or aesthetician to learn more, please contact our office.