Foods to avoid during an acne breakout, according to dermatologists – The Independent

By | October 8, 2019

As we age, we’re often told that an acne outbreak is the result of our unhealthy food choices, whether they be pizza, processed foods, or chocolate. 

But, although junk food isn’t good for your body, there is no link between consuming crips or chips and experiencing acne. 

“Greasy or deep-fried foods do not cause acne,” board-certified dermatologist Dr Melanie Palm reiterated to The Independent.

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However, according to dermatologists, there are two food groups that you may want to avoid when experiencing an acne breakout or are prone to acne, as they can exacerbate the issue in certain people. 

One of the groups of food to avoid is high glycemic index foods, better known as refined carbohydrates and sugars. 

High glycemic index foods are foods that release glucose rapidly, according to Harvard University Medical School, prompting a spike in blood sugar levels. 

Although high glycemic foods include white breads and cereals, it also applies to otherwise healthier foods such as watermelon. 

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr Jennifer Chwalek, it can be beneficial for those who are having an acne flare-up to avoid high glycemic index foods because the subsequent spike in blood sugar levels can “trigger a cascade of effects to produce oil and clog pores” that can “set the stage for acne”.

Dr Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, also suggested limiting high glycemic index foods from your diet if you are experiencing a breakout, as these foods may “promote acne breakouts in predisposed individuals”.

“The high sugar load activates messengers in the bloodstream that in turn promote skin inflammation,” he told The Independent

In addition to high-sugar foods, dairy can also have a negative impact on acne breakouts, according to Dr Zeichner.

“Cow’s milk, particularly skim milk, has been associated with acne breakouts,” he said. “It is thought to be due to a high-sugar content within the milk and perhaps due to circulating hormones from the lactating cow. 

“Interestingly, yoghurt, and cheese have not been associated with acne flares.” 

However, as pointed out by Dr Chwalek, while “some studies show a tendency for worse acne in susceptible individuals who consume more dairy,” it is not true for all people.

Overall, as Dr Palm points out, “generally speaking, food elimination diets are not recommended for the vast majority of acne patients”. 

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As for what to do if you are experiencing a breakout, dermatologists recommend washing your face twice daily to rid of pore-clogging oils and other acne-causing irritants. 

For more tips on dealing with a breakout, you can read our guide here.

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