The issue about the role food plays in acne and problem skin is still somehow contentious as there are not many studies done on this subject.  However, from the few studies that were done, certain foods have shown the tendency to aggravate acne.  ‘This is confirmed from personal experience of patients I see with acne and is in line with what the studies have shown. Although having said this, this does not apply to all patients who have acne’, says Dr Mathobela. ‘Acne patients will have to eliminate these identified foods and asses the impact it has on their acne’, she says.

High Glycaemic foods may worsen acne

According to random controlled studies that were conducted in Australia in 2007 and in Korea in 2012, there was a worsening of acne in patients on high glycaemic diets and improvement in those on low glycaemic diets. High glycaemic foods or refined carbohydrates include sugar, flour, rice, white potatoes, bread, fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, etc. all of which may aggravate the condition.

The patients on low glycaemic diets experienced a reduction in the size of their sebaceous glands, less inflammatory cells and less inflammatory cytokines (cell signalling molecules), compared to patients on a high glycaemic diet. Low GI foods include foods such as whole-wheat bread, oats, All-Bran, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, bulgur, chickpeas, sweet potato, corn, legumes, beans, lentils, non-starchy vegetables, carrots and most fruits.

Dairy may also be a culprit

A large retrospective study done in 2005 found an association between milk consumption and acne. This study was followed up by two further studies that also showed worsening of acne with increased milk intake. According to a case control study in Malaysia, patients with acne were found to consume large quantities of milk and ice cream. In a more recent study that was done in Norway in 2016, an association was shown between high intakes of dairy products and acne in adolescence. 

Useful tips when you have acne or problem skin

Proper acne skin care can support a medical regimen for acne and reduce reaction often associated with topical medical treatment. Avoid over washing. Wash your face only twice a day with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water. Only use alcohol-free cleansers and toners, for example Oxy’s Daily Face Wash and Cleansing Soap Bars.  If your skin is very oily , Oxy’s Cleansing Toner can also be used.