Monday, August 24, 2009

Controversies about acne

As high school and college students get ready to go back to school, many of them have one thing on their mind: their looks. They are so self-conscious that they would be willing to do almost anything to improve their self-image. One of the biggest problems faced by young people today is acne. If you've never had a serious problem with acne, then you may have a difficult time truly understanding what some people go through. For many students and young adults, acne can lead to serious problems with self-esteem, social interactions, and much more. What may seem to be a common dermatological condition can lead to serious mental and emotional problems.

Several controversies still surround acne. Clinicians really don't know what to think when it comes to some of these issues because the evidence is still lacking. For instance, does your diet affect your acne? If you eat greasy foods, are you more likely to have a greasy face? Here's something interesting: A study of 47,355 women in the Nurses' Health Study that used retrospective data collection to determine diet during high school found an association between acne and intake of milk. Didn't expect that, did you? There is currently no robust evidence that eating chocolate is associated with an increase in acne. Thank goodness, because I love eating chocolate.

What about stress? Does stress worsen acne? In one study, acne severity seemed to be associated with stress, particularly in boys. A different study of 22 university students found that acne severity appeared to have some correlation with stress around the time of school examinations. 22 students isn't a large number, so we probably need additional studies to really answer the question of stress. We live in a world of evidence-based medicine, so we need to make sure that we're making conclusive statements that are based on strong clinical evidence and not just anecdotal stories. Of course, if you're convinced that certain foods or stress affect your acne, you may not care about evidence.

1 comment:

  1. Acne is an interesting subject. But considering that many societies never experienced acne until they began eating a "Westernized" diet (ie, junk food, heavy on the animal protein, etc), diet definitely plays a role.

    There are probably other factors, but acne seems to be one of those diseases of civilization.