A healthy diet does a body good inside and out, and dermatologists at Baylor College of Medicine say there is evidence that links certain foods to flares in acne.
“While there are definitely a number of triggers for acne, the connection between diet and acne is very interesting,” said Dr. Rajani Katta, professor of dermatology at Baylor. “Years back dermatologists thought the two were not linked, but now researchers say there is evidence for a link between sugar and carbohydrates and acne.”
Studies have shown that foods with a high glycemic index can affect breakouts.
“Foods high on the glycemic index, meaning foods high in refined carbohydrates such as sugar, cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels,” said Dr. Ramsey Markus, associate professor of dermatology at Baylor. ”As a result of the high blood sugar levels there is a cascade of hormones released that eventually stimulate the oil gland, leading to worsening of acne”.
High glycemic index foods include:
- White rice
- White bread
- White potatoes
One study placed participants on a low glycemic index diet for 12 weeks and during this time their acne did improve significantly, Katta said.
Other foods and factors can also aggravate acne.
“Dairy products, especially low fat milk, have been linked to acne,” Markus said. “Stress also is a big factor, as stress-related hormones trigger acne flares.”
The hormonal changes of puberty are a well-known trigger. Additionally, certain medications like lithium, medicinal steroids or anabolic steroids can lead to acne, he said.
Skin care products not designed for patients prone to acne may create a flare. Markus advises patients to look for key words such as oil-free or non-comedogenic in selecting suitable skin care products in patients who are acne prone.