Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Acne Health Center

Font Size

Low-Carb Diets May Improve Acne

Go Easy on the Carbs and Dairy to Keep Acne at Bay, Researcher Says
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Aug. 8, 2011 -- Low-carb eating plans may do more than promote weight loss. These diets may also improve acne.

Although the few studies conducted on this topic have yielded mixed results, “theoretically, people with acne may have hyperinsulinemia and foods that are low in the glycemic index (GI) may contribute to the hormonal control of acne,” says Alan R. Shalita, MD, thedistinguished teaching professor and chairman of the department of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York.

Hyperinsulinemia is characterized by excess levels of the hormone insulin in the blood, and foods with a low glycemic index that are favored by low-carb eating plans can help control blood sugar (glucose) levels.

“I would encourage patients with acne to moderate the amount of carbs that they eat and not to overdo dairy,” he says. There is some suggestion that dairy products may contribute to acne, he says.

Shalita spoke on the relationship between diet and acne at the American Academy of Dermatology Summer meeting in New York.

Much of the information circulating about how certain foods cause or cure break-outs are myths, he says.

For example, there is no evidence that chocolate causes acne, he says. “One study that compared Hershey chocolate bars with carob bars found no difference in acne risk,” Shalita says. “There is sugar and fat in both, so for people that do react to chocolate, it has more to do with the sugar than the cocoa.”

Acne Treatment Update

The good news on the acne front has to do with treatments; Shalita says. Over-the-counter (OTC) products are the best place to start for mild-to-moderate acne. Shalita suggests a salicylic acid cleanser followed by a benzoyl peroxide leave-on product to help dry the skin for people with mild-to-moderate acne.

“If you don’t respond, see a dermatologist,” he says.

For severe, scarring acne, the gold standard is still isotretinoin, a form of vitamin A. This drug was formerly known by the brand name Accutane. It can cause severe birth defects and can have other side effects, including depression, hallucinations, and suicidal behavior.

Today on WebMD

Girl with acne
See if you know how to control your acne.
happy woman with clear skin
Triggers and treatments for blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne.
Bride with acne
Dos and don’ts for hiding breakouts.
close-up of a young man soaping his face
Why adults get acne and how to treat it.
Boy cleaning acne face
HPV Vaccine Future
beauty cream
Bride with acne
Woman applying mineral makeup
Arrows pointing on teen girl blemish

WebMD Special Sections