Is Your Diet Affecting Your Acne?

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With no known cause, there are lots of myths and debates when it comes to adult acne. One thing commonly disputed is the link between diet and acne and if in fact food is a breakout trigger.

Recently, dermatologists have been revaluating the role diet plays in acne. Carbohydrates and dairy have been particular food groups of interest. According to New York dermatologist Whitney P. Bowe, MD, carbohydrate-rich foods could worsen acne. “The strongest evidence we have to date of a link between diet and acne comes from the glycemic index studies,” says Dr. Bowe. “These studies show that low-glycemic index diets may improve acne. The consumption of high-glycemic index foods appears to trigger a cascade of responses, which can lead to acne through effects on growth hormones and sex hormones.” As for the connection between dairy and acne, the link is there Dr. Bowe says, but not as strong as with carbohydrates.

“The evidence suggests that diet does play a role in acne,” says Dr. Bowe. “More studies are definitely needed in this area, but they are not easy studies to execute. Patients can be their own best detectives in determining possible food triggers for acne, and I encourage them to make an appointment with a dermatologist if they have any acne concerns.”

So, what can you do?  Dr. Bowe, suggests the following for dealing with your acne and determining any food triggers:

  • Watch for food triggers that may seem to aggravate acne.
  • Keep a food diary and share it with your board-certified dermatologist.
  • Be patient. It may take up to 12 weeks of a diet change to determine if certain foods are contributing to acne.
  • Continue following your regular acne treatment routine. Diet changes are only a small part of an acne treatment plan and are meant to be used in conjunction with proven medical therapies for acne.
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