Diet for Acne Cysts
If you have cystic acne, you likely know it's one of the most severe forms of the common skin condition. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, cystic acne often leaves scars behind, and can cause pain and disfigurement. While many people believe diet can influence acne, there's no real medical evidence to show what you eat can help your acne cysts. However, 2002 research from Colorado State University offers an unproven approach that may be worth trying: a low-glycemic index diet for acne.
Acne develops when excess oil and dead skin cells plug hair follicles at the surface of your skin, according to the website MayoClinic.com. Acne-causing bacteria can infect these plugged hair follicles, leading to raised bumps and pimples. Cystic acne, one of four types of severe acne, occurs when bad infection creates pockets of pus and inflammation below your skin's surface, leading to a large, hard red bump on the surface of your skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
In the research from Colorado State University, published in December 2002 in the "Archives of Dermatology," professor Loren Cordain examined two separate populations of modern hunter-gatherers in Paraguay and Papua New Guinea who do not eat refined carbohydrates, and found no cases of acne among them. Cordain concluded that a Western diet heavy in refined carbohydrates may contribute to acne formation and cystic acne in teens and adults.
No researcher has tested this hypothesis in a controlled clinical trial by experimenting with a low-carbohydrate diet in people with different forms of acne, including acne cysts. Therefore, there's no proof that it would work. But Cordain said in a press release accompanying the study that changing your diet so it focuses less on processed carbohydrates and more on carbohydrates that fall low on the glycemic index might help to improve acne in people with the skin condition.
If you decide to try this approach, you should eliminate all white flour and sugar from your diet, which means switching to whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta products. You also should focus more heavily on fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats in your diet, while skipping soda, cookies, cakes and chips, according to Cordain.
Acne cysts often leave scars when they finally heal, and so even if you decide to try a low-carb or low-glycemic index diet for your cystic acne, you still should see a dermatologist in an effort to avert scars, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Your dermatologist can prescribe anti-acne medications that can help the infection in your cysts while you're altering your diet.
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