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Study: What Role Does Diet Have in Acne?


A study investigated the role diet habits have in the development, duration, and severity of acne.

A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology performed a systematic review of supplemental data from the last 10 years from January 2009 to April 2020.1

The scientific literature was searched by using the key words “acne” or “acne vulgaris” and “diet,” “nutrition,” “food”, “chocolate,” “dairy,” “whey protein,” “fatty acid,” or “drink” in the PubMed database.

Of the available papers, 53 met the eligibility criteria and were reviewed. These articles included 11 interventional clinical trials (7 randomized controlled trials and 4 controlled open label studies) and 42 observational studies (17 case-control, 22 cross-sectional, and 3 descriptive studies). 

After reviewing the literature, the researchers found a growing trend of interest in the subject of diet and acne in the scientific community.

The acne promoting factors that were determined were high glycemic index foods, dairy products, fat foods, and chocolate. The acne prevention factors found were fatty acids, fruits, and vegetables. 

When it comes to milk, which includes whole, reduced-fat, low-fat, dairy products, and chocolate, the specific roles they play in acne are still unknown and will require more research, according to the study authors. 


1. Dall’Oglio F, Nasca MR, Fiorentini F, Micali G. Diet and acne: review of the evidence from 2009 to 2020. International Journal of Dermatology. 2021;60(6):672-685. doi:10.1111/ijd.15390

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Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, FAAD, an expert on acne
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