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Acne

Our evidence-based analysis on acne features 20 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Jun 28, 2017
Last Updated:

Summary of Acne

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Scientific Information on Acne

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Frequently Asked Questions about Acne

Does dairy cause acne?
Growth factors can cause acne, either androgens or anything acting on the insulin receptor (including IGF-1) that enhance androgen signaling. Dairy is currently weakly suspected to contribute via the above, but not enough evidence exists to support a strong relationship.

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect acne
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Notable Very High See all 3 studies
Topical application of 4% nicotinamide gel rivals 1% clindamycin gel in reducing acne severity and tends to work better than clindamycin in oily skin types.
grade-b Minor Very High See all 4 studies
Orally supplemented zinc (in the dosage range of 30-130mg elemental zinc) appears to be effective in reducing symptoms of acne, although the effects are modest at best.
grade-c - - See study
One study assessing the blinded intake of chocolate in subjects who reported to be acne prone found an increase in acne when chocolate was given relative to placebo.

All comparative evidence is now gathered in our ​A-to-Z Supplement Reference.

The evidence for each separate supplement is still freely available ​here.

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References

  1. ROBINSON HM. The acne problem. South Med J. (1949)
  2. Melnik BC. Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. (2011)
  3. Deplewski D, Rosenfield RL. Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factors have different effects on sebaceous cell growth and differentiation. Endocrinology. (1999)
  4. Aizawa H, Niimura M. Elevated serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels in women with postadolescent acne. J Dermatol. (1995)
  5. Cappel M, Mauger D, Thiboutot D. Correlation between serum levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and dihydrotestosterone and acne lesion counts in adult women. Arch Dermatol. (2005)
  6. Hoppe C, et al. High intakes of skimmed milk, but not meat, increase serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 in eight-year-old boys. Eur J Clin Nutr. (2004)
  7. Salehi A, et al. The insulinogenic effect of whey protein is partially mediated by a direct effect of amino acids and GIP on β-cells. Nutr Metab (Lond). (2012)
  8. Melnik BC. FoxO1 - the key for the pathogenesis and therapy of acne. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. (2010)
  9. Kim SJ, et al. Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) stimulation of pancreatic beta-cell survival is dependent upon phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (PKB) signalling, inactivation of the forkhead transcription factor Foxo1, and down-regulation of bax expression. J Biol Chem. (2005)
  10. Melnik BC. Is nuclear deficiency of FoxO1 due to increased growth factor/PI3K/Akt-signalling in acne vulgaris reversed by isotretinoin treatment. Br J Dermatol. (2010)
  11. Melnik BC. The role of transcription factor FoxO1 in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris and the mode of isotretinoin action. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. (2010)
  12. Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Testosterone metabolism to 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone and synthesis of sebaceous lipids is regulated by the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ligand linoleic acid in human sebocytes. Br J Dermatol. (2007)
  13. Smith TM, et al. IGF-1 induces SREBP-1 expression and lipogenesis in SEB-1 sebocytes via activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway. J Invest Dermatol. (2008)
  14. Fan W, et al. Insulin-like growth factor 1/insulin signaling activates androgen signaling through direct interactions of Foxo1 with androgen receptor. J Biol Chem. (2007)
  15. Melnik B. {Acne vulgaris. Role of diet}. Hautarzt. (2010)
  16. Melnik BC, Schmitz G. Role of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris. Exp Dermatol. (2009)
  17. Bhate K, Williams HC. Epidemiology of acne vulgaris. Br J Dermatol. (2012)
  18. Danby FW. Acne and milk, the diet myth, and beyond. J Am Acad Dermatol. (2005)
  19. Adebamowo CA, et al. High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. (2005)
  20. Adebamowo CA, et al. Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. J Am Acad Dermatol. (2008)