Does Chocolate Cause Acne: What the Science Says
Acne Problems: You Asked, We Answered!
Although there is still no hard science to back it up, ask most dermatologists and they'll agree there is clearly a genetic predisposition for developing acne. So while it isn't inherited in a definitive way like blue eyes or curly hair, acne does seem to run in families and more than half of those who suffer from it can point to a family history, says Dr. Monica Schadlow, MD, of Sutton Place Dermatology in New York City. That said, there's no guarantee whether or not you will (or won't) develop adult on-set acne just because your mom or dad had (or didn't have) it. Furthermore, there's no telling the severity or length of your condition based on your parent's experience. Long story short: there are definitely some genetic factors in play, but the causes of acne are complex and can include a variety of things like hormones, diet, or stress.
Anyone who's ever had a tan knows how great it makes your skin look. It camouflages unsightly blemishes, red bumps and acne scars and creates the appearance of smoother, healthier skin. Plus, it is true that sunlight actually destroys P. acnes, the bacteria that causes inflammatory lesions, says Dr. Ava Shamban, MD, and author of . While this news might make you run for the sun or the nearest available tanning booth, keep this in mind: The risks of exposure far outweigh any theoretical benefits your skin will reap. Additionally, most acne treatments, whether topical or oral, tend to make your skin more sensitive to UV radiation, further intensifying the risks of premature aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Bottom line: The short-term sun solution is not worth the long-term risks.
First things first—since there aren't any muscles surrounding your pores, they can't actually open and close, explains Shamban. But they do get clogged. At the base of every pore there's an oil gland that creates a certain amount of sebum your skin needs. When a pore gets plugged up with a whitehead, blackhead, or more inflamed pimple, the sebum has nowhere to go and needs to be released in order to start the healing process. We've all had the urge to pick, squeeze, and pop a pimple to help unclog (or 'open') that pore faster, but it's best to keep your hands off. If you're too aggressive, says Schadlow, you can break the pore, causing the sebum to seep into the surrounding skin and create additional inflammation. Treat flare-ups with your regular regimen of medicated washes, creams, or gels and leave extractions to the experts.
This probably won't come as a surprise but yes it's true. Aunt Flo often brings blemishes along with her other monthly 'gifts'! In fact, approximately 50% of women report their acne worsening right before and during their period. About a week before your period, there's a fluctuation in hormones, says Schadlow, and this change stimulates your sebaceous glands, causing them to enlarge and secrete more oily sebum, which leads to pimples. Topical creams and gels are a useful part of treatment but hormonal acne responds best to oral medications such as contraceptives, anti-androgens, or antibiotics, says Schadlow. So if that monthly mess on your chin has you down, consult your derm for the best course of action.
The answer to this is yes and no. The physical act of working out does not cause breakouts. In fact, says Shamban, over time it can actually reduce blemishes by alleviating stress and lowering your levels of cortisol, an acne-producing stress hormone. However, if you're noticing a link between workouts and breakouts the culprit is most likely your post–gym hygiene routine. Bacteria lurking on the machines and mats can transfer to your face when you touch it; while sweat and grime gets trapped in your pores the longer you sit in your workout gear. To prevent workout-derived skin woes, be diligent about cleansing your face, showering off, and changing into clean clothes directly after exercising.
Initially, facials tend to make acne appear worse since the extraction process causes an inflammatory response in your skin, says Dr. Wm. Philip Werschler, MD, Asst. Clinical Professor of Medicine and Dermatology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Over time though, regular treatments performed by a well-trained aesthetician help reduce the number of comedomes and microcomedomes—the precursor lesions that cause inflammatory acne—and are an effective way to create clear, healthy skin. Can't afford monthly spa visits? Rev up your at-home regimen with a sonic cleansing tool that will clear out more of that comedomal build-up than just cleansing alone, says Werschler. One to try: the Clarisonic Acne Cleansing Brush Head (available late March, for store locations), which attaches on any
Bacne and pimples that pop up on other parts of your body aren't that different from the breakouts on your face. Just like the pores on your forehead or nose get clogged with oil and dead skin cells, so can the pores on your back, shoulders, legs, or arms, explains Dr. Glenn Kolansky, MD, a board-certified, New Jersey-based dermatologist. And like with acne on your face, stress and your period can also trigger breakouts from the neck down. Since the skin on your body generally isn't as sensitive as your face, says Kolansky, it can tolerate stronger products. Look for OTC cleansers and creams containing Salicylic Acid and/or Benzoyl Peroxide to target these problem zones.
Sometimes after chowing down on a big plate of fries you can almost feel the grease seeping out of your pores, right?! But guess what? There's no scientific evidence to support the myth that eating fried food or chocolate is linked to breakouts. In fact, research shows that eating a few pieces of dark chocolate can actually improve your skin's appearance since it contains flavanols, protective nutrients believed to absorb UV light and increase blood flow to the skin. A German study found that women who ate flavanol-rich cocoa every day for 12 weeks developed skin that was softer, less irritated, and up to 25 percent less sensitive to sun damage when exposed to ultraviolet light.
Sure this may sound like good news, but it's not a license to run out and stock the fridge with junk food. A nutritious, balanced diet remains the key to a healthy body inside and out. Need more proof? A study published in theJournal of the American Academy of Dermatologyput participants with acne on high-protein, low-glycemic diets for 12 weeks and the results were clear! Testers had 21.9 percent fewer blemishes—8.1 percent less than the control group that was on a high-carb diet. So, if you want to put your best face forward stick to lean protein and veggies and pass on starch and sugar.
Got milk? Then you may have zits too. While most other foods can't be linked directly to breakouts, dairy seems to be one area that may actually be causing a problem, says Shamban. Milk products may have added hormones as well as hormones that occur naturally during milk production that could be to blame. Several large-scale studies have shown that the more milk teens drink, the worse their acne becomes. And researchers believe women in their 20s and 30s could be afflicted in a similar way. If you're noticing a lot of outbreaks try cutting back on cheese and other dairy products and switch from regular milk to organic, hormone-free brands. Or try rice, soy, or almond milk substitutes and see if that clears things up.
Unless you're living under a rock you've probably heard someone singing the praises of this 'miracle elixir'. While the jury is still out on the health benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar (research has begun to show its potential effects on weight loss, cholesterol, heart health, and more) there's no reason to worry about using it on your skin, says Kolansky. This natural alternative isn't necessarily going to magically cure your acne, but like most vinegars it's high in acetic acid and has antiseptic properties that can help keep pores clean and bacteria-free. Absorbing excess oils on the skin, it also acts as a mild astringent. Plus, thanks to exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids, it gently sloughs away dead skin cells that might clog your pores. Keep in mind that apple cider vinegar is pretty acidic, says Kolansky, so to avoid irritation it's best to dilute it with one part vinegar to two or three parts water.
Video: You asked. We answered. Acne, pcos and hormones.
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