Diet and acne

By Erin Manoles, PA-C

There has been plenty of debate over the years about whether diet plays a significant role in acne formation. Do greasy foods cause oily skin? Should I stay away from dairy and chocolate? Would cutting a bunch of stuff out of my diet clear up my skin? 

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, there are no specific dietary changes that can be definitively recommended to manage acne. While we know inflammation can cause acne, and certain foods can increase inflammation, it is difficult to assume a direct cause-and-effect relationship with food and acne. However, emerging evidence from several studies suggest that high glycemic index diets (high sugar-content diets) may be associated with acne. Regarding  dairy as a possible aggravating factor, there has been some limited evidence to suggest that dairy, particularly skim milk, may influence acne. While the evidence based studies may be limited, you may notice that there are certain foods that seem to trigger your acne – and it’s hard to argue with that!  

One helpful idea to see if your acne and diet are truly linked is to keep a food journal. Many studies show correlations between the food you consume and acne, but it is important to remember that there are many other factors, such as your genetics, environment, pollution and products that impact your skin. If you are concerned that certain kinds of food may be leading to your acne outbreaks, the best thing to do is log every meal while recording the type of acne you develop. If you notice any correlations between certain foods and worsening acne, it may be time to cut it out!

All in all, diet change alone is likely not going to be the cure for pesky breakouts. But if you happen to be a sweet tooth like me, staying away from sugary foods or personal food triggers for acne can only help the results of your skin care regimen.

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