Posted by & via Acne, Skin Care Tips, Torrance, CA.

Smiling young woman with vegetables and fruits

Patients frequently ask me “Does eating chocolate or fast food cause acne?”   My answer and that of other dermatologists has always been “No” based on studies of diet and acne done in the 1960’s. Recently a review in the respected Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology has shown evidence that there IS a link. The most compelling evidence shows an association between acne and a high glycemic diet (a diet high in carbohydrates).  In a recent internet survey, patients on the South Beach Diet (which emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish) exhibited an 86% improvement in acne lesions. Of those survey participants who were on acne treatment, 91% were able to decrease the dose or amount of treatments they were using. Based on this information, I now counsel acne patients, especially those who are overweight, to consider this type of dietary change.

There is also consistent data showing a link between dairy intake and acne. It is still unknown whether this is due to hormones in milk products or increased activity of certain hormones in the body stimulated by dairy intake.  I now advise patients to consider a switch to organic milk products, as well as decreasing the number of dairy servings per day.

This is an exciting breakthrough which will be helpful to those with chronic or treatment resistant acne


2 Responses to “Diet and Acne”

  1. Jeanne Peters RD

    Dr Goodlerener, I agree with your recommendations on the connection between a low glycemic diet and improvements in treatment for acne. Keeping blood sugars and insulin down helps decrease inflammation of acne lesions
    I also recommend to clients seeking help with their acne to take a break for 7-10 days of all dairy products and see if they see an improvement with their skin after reading this study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition looking at the role of dairy consumption in acne. Questionnaires submitted by 47,000 high-school-age women found a “positive association” between acne and total milk and skim milk consumption. The association may be due to hormones and bioactive molecules found in dairy milk.
    At our medical center, we recommend that people who suffer from acne should strive for the “cleanest” diet possible, concentrating on fresh, fruits and vegetables, and reducing their intake of processed sugar and dairy products and aim for organic, hormone-free dairy products.
    Jeanne Peters RD
    Nutrition Director
    Nourishing Wellness Medical Center
    Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D et al. High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52(2):207-14.

    Cordain L, Lindeberg S et al. Acne vulgaris: a disease of Western civilization. Arch Dermatol. 2002 Dec; 138(12):1584-90.

  2. Susan Goodlerner MD

    Thank you Jeannie for your excellent and well referenced comments.