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Adult Acne & Food

Adult Acne & Food Adult Acne & Food


Acne is regarded as an adolescent condition by many people because more than 80 percent of adolescents in Western nations are afflicted by it, according to Archives of Dermatology. However, more than 40 percent of American adults who are older than 25 and about 12 percent of middle-aged women and 3 percent of middle-aged men also have acne. Numerous studies show that food does not cause acne in adolescents or adults, but some foods might compound acne problems.


Chocolate and greasy foods were often inaccurately blamed for acne, according to "Acne Vulgaris," a University of Michigan Health System report. The most important factor in acne is an increase in male hormones called androgens. That's why so many adolescents get acne. The androgens cause oil glands beneath the skin to become overactive, causing blackheads, pimples and whiteheads. Birth control pills, pregnancy and stress cause hormonal changes and adult acne. Adult women with an excess of androgens are also susceptible to acne, the National Institutes of Health reports.

Myth Disproved

The theory that chocolate causes acne was a "widespread idea" for many years, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tested this idea in 1969. In one experiment, people with acne ate chocolate bars with 10 times the amount of chocolate in a normal bar, or chocolate-looking bars with no chocolate. In the second experiment, people with no acne ate two chocolate bars daily for one month. The experiments proved chocolate didn't cause or worsen acne, the Dec. 15, 1969 issue of JAMA reported.

Other Foods

Many adults blame specific foods for acne breakouts, but there is "no relationship" between acne and any food, according to "Acne," a report by The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Diets high in iodized salt and shellfish with a lot of iodine cause "an acne-like rash" in a small number of people, but "rarely" cause acne, according to the "Acne Vulgaris" report. In addition, observations about food allergies causing adult acne have "not been supported" by studies, the "Acne Vulgaris" report concluded.


Diets don't make acne worse, according to the "Acne" and "Acne Vulgaris" reports. Adult acne can be made worse by oil from cosmetics or moisturizers, kitchen grease, pressure from backpacks or sports helmets, high humidity, pollution, stress, washing the skin too hard, and the picking or squeezing of pimples, the reports say.

High-Sugar Foods

Scientists are investigating whether foods which rapidly raise blood sugar make acne worse. A 2007 study showed they do, but the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that the study needs to be confirmed. Foods which raise blood sugar rapidly are known as high glycemic index foods. They include "root" vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, sugary fruits such as bananas and pineapples, and most breads, cereals, cakes, cookies and pastas, "The South Beach Diet" reports. Low glycemic index foods include cheese, fish, meat, poultry, most vegetables, berries and cherries.

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