Low carb diets may improve acne

November 12, 2012

Low carb diets may improve acne

Recent results from studies on acne, although receiving mixed results, show that low carb diets may help to improve the condition.

Alan R Shalita, MD, Teaching Professor and Chairman of the Department of Dermatology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York says “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. I would encourage patients with acne to moderate the amount of carbs that they eat and not to overdo dairy”.

An excess level of the hormone insulin in the blood defines hyperinsulinemia. To help control blood sugar (glucose) levels it is best to eat foods with a low glycemic index (GI) which are favored by low-carb eating plans.

Speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology Summer meeting in New York Shalita re-iterated that so much of what was being said in the public debate relating to acne is untrue or unproven. When discussing the association acne and what we eat, Shalita says, “Much of the information circulating about how certain foods cause or cure break-outs are myth. There is no evidence that chocolate causes acne. One study that compared Hershey chocolate bars with carob bars found no difference in acne risk. 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”.

Shalita thinks that trying over the counter treatments initially is the best course of action for people with mild to moderate acne. He also suggests that, “a salicylic acid cleanser followed by a benzoyl peroxide leave-on product to help dry the skin for people with mild to moderate acne”. He also recommends, “If you don’t respond see a dermatologist”.

Using isotretinoin is still the best available treatment for severe acne, especially if scarring is present. This is a form of vitamin A which is routinely used on the most severe cases of acne. can be used if you suffer from severe, scarring acne. Previously the drug used the name Accutane. It has been noted that isotretinoin has been linked to causing severe side effects including severe birth defects, hallucinations, depression and suicidal behaviour. Therefore it is no surprise acne sufferers are looking for a substitute. Certain oral contraceptives as well as oral or tropical antibiotics are another choice in the treatment of acne.

Amy Forman Taub, MD, Medical Director of Advanced Dermatology and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago says “So now people are looking for alternative acne treatments”.

She goes on to discuss the options and says that some lasers have been seen to provide positive outcomes when used to combat acne and scarring. Adolescents and adults with acne which is severe, blue light Levulan photodynamic therapy may be possible. The process consists of applying Levulan, which is a liquid, to the skin. It is then soaked into the oil glands and blue light treatment sets in motion a chemical reaction in the medication which shrinks the glands. This treatment is also effective at destroying acne-causing bacteria.

Taub summarizes by saying that mild to moderate acne can still be easily dealt with using over the counter salicylic acid cleansers and benzoyl peroxide. However she cautions against this course of action if your acne is severe as, “you may be flirting with acne scars”.

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