Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

Closeup of a chocolate bar
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Chocolate has taken the blame for breakouts for decades.  But is the bad rap justified?

It's good news for all you chocoholics: eating chocolate does not cause pimples.  There are no studies linking this sweet treat to the development of acne.  

That means that eating chocolate will not cause acne.  Cutting chocolate out of your diet won't clear up a case of acne, either.  

But, these days, more attention is being paid to the link between diet and acne development.

  Surprisingly, it's not any of the "usual" culprits getting the blame.  Instead of French fries, soda, or potato chips, but rather things like dairy products and carbohydrates.  

Does that mean if you eat one ice cream bar you'll get one pimple?  And eating two donuts means two pimples?  No, it doesn't work like that (thank goodness!)

Even the most recent research on the diet and acne connection doesn't suggest that any specific foods cause acne in an otherwise clear-skinned person.  Rather, it shows that consuming these foods may make existing acne worse for some people.

Even so, chocolate isn't on the short list of possible acne triggers.  But what about that pimple you got the day after eating a chocolate bar?  Most likely just a coincidence.  You would have gotten that same pimple chocolate bar or none.  Plus, I know I get plenty of pimples without having a piece of chocolate ever cross my lips.

 

Food isn't the most likely culprit.  The real causes of acne are a buildup of dead skin cells within the pore, an excess of skin oil (called sebum), and a proliferation of acne-causing bacteria.

Hormones also play a role in acne development.  That's why acne is so common during puberty and, for ladies, around the time of your period.

 

The predisposition for acne is also hereditary. So if your parents had acne, you probably will too.

If a particular food seems to cause more breakouts for you, avoid eating it. But remember, there is no direct link between any specific food to the development of pimples.

So go ahead and enjoy that piece of chocolate or order of fries (in moderation, of course.  A healthy diet is still important.) Your skin will be no worse for it the next day.

Sources:

"Acne Myths." AcneNet. 2007. American Academy of Dermatology. AcneNet. Accessed 27 Jan 2008.

Ismail NH, Manaf ZA, Azizan NZ.  "High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study."  2012 Aug 16;12:13.

Manmood SN, Bowe WP.  "Diet and acne update: carbohydrates emerge as the main culprit."  J Drugs Dermatol. 2014 Apr;13(4):428-35.

United States. NIAMS. "Questions and Answers About Acne." Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, 2006.

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