Following a diet with low or moderate amounts of carbohydrate not only helps keep a balanced weight but also may improve acne. “Theoretically, people with acne may have hyperinsulinemia and foods that are low in the glycemic index (GI) may contribute to the hormonal control of acne,” said Alan R. Shalita, the chairman of the department of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York, adding that few studies conducted on this topic have revealed controversial results.
Hyperinsulinemia, or failure of the Blood Sugar Control System (BSCS), is characterized by excessive blood levels of insulin. Following a low carbohydrate diet may lower insulin release and help control blood sugar levels. “I would encourage patients with acne to moderate the amount of carbs that they eat and not to overdo dairy,” Shalita recommended according to the WebMD report, stressing that dairy products may contribute to acne.
Much of the information available about how certain foods may contribute to or cure acne are myths, he said during a presentation at the American Academy of Dermatology Summer meeting in New York, Shalita stressed that there is no evidence that chocolate causes acne, adding that, “One study that compared Hershey chocolate bars with carob bars found no difference in acne risk,” he noted. “There is sugar and fat in both, so for people that do react to chocolate, it has more to do with the sugar than the cocoa.”
Over-the-counter (OTC) products are the best place to seek for a treatment for mild-to-moderate acne. Using a salicylic acid cleanser followed by a benzoyl peroxide leave-on product is an effective way to help dry the skin in these individuals, Shalita suggested.
For severe scarring acne, the gold standard is still isotretinoin, a form of vitamin A previously known as Accutane. The drug, however, may cause severe birth defects and its use is associated with side effects, including depression, hallucinations, and suicidal behavior. Other treatments for acne include oral contraceptives, oral or topical antibiotics, and certain laser therapies, said Amy Forman Taub, the medical director of Advanced Dermatology at Northwestern University. Physicians believe OTC treatments are only good for mild to moderate acne, stressing that it would be better for patients with severe forms of the condition to consult with a doctor.