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Diet-acne association becomes clearer


There have been several shifts over time around beliefs in the association between diet and acne. Linda Stein Gold, M.D., discussed the recommendations of current guidelines at the summer meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Beliefs about the association between diet and acne has changed several times. More recently, there has been a shift toward thinking that an association does exist, according to Linda Stein Gold, M.D., director, Dermatology Clinical Research, Henry Ford Health System.

“In the 1960s, the belief was that diet was an important influence on acne and advice was commonly given to avoid of greasy foods, chocolate and soda,” says Dr. Stein Gold, who presented on diet and acne, during the “Translating Evidence into Practice: Acne Guidelines” session at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Summer Meeting in July. “In the 1980s, some small studies called this thinking into question and the belief system switched to thinking that diet did not influence acne. Today, we have come full circle to believe that there may be an association.”

RELATED: Diet matters in atopic dermatitis

Some studies have demonstrated that high glycemic diets-diets that raise the insulin level in the blood quickly-can exacerbate acne. Still other studies implicate milk and possibly skim milk in exacerbating acne, according to Dr. Stein Gold, who is among the authors of “Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris.”

Current guidelines published in the Journal of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) make these recommendations about the role of diet in acne1:
• Given the current data, no specific dietary changes are recommended in the management of acne.
• Emerging data suggest that high glycemic index diets may be associated with acne.
• Limited evidence suggests that some dairy, particularly skim milk, may influence acne.

“The guidelines take these new studies into consideration; however, we do not have the large, reproducible controlled clinical trials to make a firm recommendation,” Dr. Stein Gold says.


Dr. Stein Gold has advisory, speaking, consulting, research and/or other ties with Abbvie, Actavis, Allergan, Aqua, Dermavant Sciences, Dermira, Foamix, Galderma Laboratories, La Roche-Posay Laboratorie Pharmaceutique, Leo Pharma, LEO Pharma, US, Lilly, Merz Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Promius Pharmaceuticals, Roche Laboratories, Sol-Gel Technologies, Taro Pharm, Topica and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.


Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74(5):945-73.e33.

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