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What causes acne?

Acne is cause caused by overproduction of sebum in the skin, blockage of hair follicles, inflammation, and an overgrowth of a naturally occuring skin bacterium Propionibacterium acnes. All of these factors seem to feed on one another so it is not clear which process causes the other to become abnormal.

What are my options for acne treatment?

Acne treatment depends on the type of acne, severity, patient’s skin type, and if the patient is pregnant. The first line of defense is good skin care. Benzoyl peroxide alone or in combination with other products is a great start. Additional treatments options include topical retinoids, azelaic acid, niacinamide, and salicylic acid. If these are not satisfactory topical or oral antibiotics can be considered as a last resort. In cases of cystic acne, more aggressive treatments are necessary and testing for endocrine problems may need to be undertaken.

The second line of acne treatment includes newer technologies. Laser light treatmentssuperficial chemical peels, and photodynamic therapy can help to decrease both active and recurrent acne outbreaks. 

How can I treat acne scarring?

The best acne scar treatment is prevention . Once scarring has occurred, there are several options for treatment including dermabrasion, fillers, subcision, laser resurfacing, dermarolling, and others. In some cases, a combination of treatments is necessary to obtain optimal results.

Does diet affect acne outbreaks?

While diet does not cause acne, certain foods have been suggested to exacerbate acne outbreaks. Extensive studies are lacking but there is evidence to support some foods being useful to avoid or use to treat acne.

Since acne is an inflammatory process, antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E, green tea, and omega-3 fatty acids have shown some benefit to decrease acne outbreaks. Several studies have shown decreased levels of zinc and vitamin A in patients who have severe acne. Accutane, a prescription medication, is a high dose Vitamin A which is approved for treatment of severe acne. 

Studies have shown milk and iodine to increase the inflammatory response in the body. A few small studies have shown improvement in acne with decreased iodine and milk intake.Most of these studies are also backed by the observation that there is an increased incidence of acne in people who consume a Western diet high in fats and low in antioxidants.

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrate content of food is absorbed into the body. It is a scale from 1-100 with 100 being the value given to simple sugars such as glucose which are quickly and completely absorbed into the bloodstream. Foods are rated high (greater than 70), low (less than 55), or moderate (56-69). Just because a food has a high carbohydrate or sugar content does not mean that it will have a high glycemic index.

The glycemic index itself is not a diet plan. Foods which have a low glycemic index tend to be healthier, nutrient-rich, less refined, and higher in fiber — like whole fruits, vegetables, and beans. The glycemic index is the basis for many popular diet plans, such as SouthBeach, The Zone, Sugar Busters, Glucose Revolution, and Ending the Food Fight. For glycemic index values, visit http://www.glycemicindex.com.

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