Food and Acne: Is Something I’m Eating Causing My Breakouts?

Is it something I’m eating?

“It’s one of the most common questions I hear,” Dr. Miriam Hanson, a board certified Dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. The truth is, there are a multitude of factors that can contribute to the development of acne. Diet is one of most controversial.

Acne-inducing Myths

young woman squeeze her acne in front of the mirrorPatients often believe that their diet directly contributes to breakouts, and certain specific foods are often cited as culprits.  “I frequently get asked whether or not chocolate is the root of my skin problems,” shares Dr. Hanson, “but the truth is, there’s very little evidence chocolate is bad.” In fact, scientific studies examining the relationship between diet and acne are few and variable.

Early studies looking at the relationship between acne and chocolate failed to show any relationship. Yet more recent studies have suggested that the additives including milk, sugar and other ingredients in many chocolate products may actually be responsible for inducing acne. For example, a study of 600 young women showed a correlation in acne breakouts and the consumption of dairy. Still, additional surveys, population analyses and small cohort consumption studies have continued to suggest chocolate can cause breakouts.

“It’s hard to interpret,” says Dr. Hanson. “I tell my patients that if they can attribute their breakouts to a specific food, they can try to avoid it. However, it does not necessarily mean that this food causes acne in everyone.”

Is It The Junk Food?

Chips and pizza? Unfortunately it’s a similar story. “There is a lack of scientific evidence,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, board-certified dermatologist in Austin. “However, we have seen more and more studies implicating sugar intake and high-glycemic diets with acne flares.” This includes, amongst other things, diets rich in potatoes, flour, white bread, sodas, and other sugar-rich products specifically containing simple carbohydrates.

“These foods can cause spikes in blood-sugar and insulin levels,” explains Dr. Mamelak. “These in turn can place a stress on the body, stimulate cortisol and other hormonal responses, that have ultimately been implicated in stimulating the development of acne.”

“Simple carbohydrates have also been implicated in aggravating inflammation in the body and skin conditions like Rosacea, not to mention accelerating the aging process by contributing to the break down of the collagen and elastin,” notes Dr. Hanson. There is good evidence that suggests removing unnecessary sugars and other indulgences can lead to healthier and clearer skin. A balanced diet with vegetables, fruits and foods with high doses of the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids might very well improve your skin’s health and appearance.

If you are noticing a consistent acne or skin-related reaction and are concerned it’s related to a specific part of your diet, a visit your  dermatologist can help decipher the exact cause.

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Are you experiencing a flare in your acne? Please contact us at Sanova Dermatology so that we may help you solve your skin problems!

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