More Milk, More Acne?

One of the most frequent questions dermatologists receive is how diet can impact acne. While there is no specific diet that points towards greater success with treating acne, what is known is that consuming a diet with a low glycemic index can be helpful for some patients. The question of dairy consumption comes up frequently, which is why we’re going to look at a study analyzing the relationship between milk and acne.


Subsequent nutritional studies showed links between acne, high–glycemic index diets, and high dairy intake, especially low-fat and skim milk. To further explore this potential dairy-acne connection, LaRosa and coworkers conducted a case-control study to investigate the diets of 120 teenagers aged 14-19 with moderate acne compared with those of 105 acne-free controls. Acne and control groups were comparable in regard to age, gender, ethnicity, and body mass index.


Here’s what they found:


  • Total dairy consumption was slightly higher in the acne group

  • Low-fat/skim milk consumption correlated with having acne

  • In contrast, whole milk consumption did not correlate with having acnw

  • Investigators found no link between acne and the mean dietary glycemic index; total daily calorie intake; intake of saturated or trans-fat; total carbohydrates; total protein; total fat; or percentage of calories from fat, protein, or carbohydrates

What does that all mean? While the study found that low-fat/skim milk elimination may benefit some teenagers with stubborn acne, clinical trials are still needed to quantify this effect and to tease out which specific components of milk are responsible.


That being said, I don’t believe people need to make drastic changes to their diet, unless they are experiencing great difficulty controlling their acne through medication. If it seems like nothing else is working, it won’t hurt to record your eating habits and consider eliminating foods with a high glycemic load from your diet.


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