I never had acne in high school, but halfway through college, I started getting break-outs on my face and body. I had been dealing with it for years with mainly topical creams using salicylic acid, benzyl peroxide, and retin-a creams. Nothing seemed to work. Recently, I have been focusing on my diet, and my skin looks and feels much better. I cut out a lot of processed foods, avoid foods with high glycemic index such as candy, chocolate, etc., focus on eating fresh vegetables (lots of kale, broccoli, etc.) for every meal with lean protein and whole grains, and try to avoid foods laden with hormones (non-organic milk and red meat).
I am not a doctor, but I was curious why low glycemic diet would promote a reduction in acne. If sugar was the sole culprit, then diabetic patients would routinely be affected with break-outs. Acne, as I understand it, is an inflammatory response from the body when harmful bacteria are trapped in the sebaceous glands of your skin. The root cause of acne is a bacterial infection so topical creams such as salicylic acid or benzyl peroxide are used to inhibit growth of all micro-organism on your skin. Failing that, the last line of treatment is anti-biotics.
I believe you are more prone to break-outs when your blood glucose level is high because the harmful bacteria that reside under your skin can somehow access glucose. That gives them a carbon source for unmitigated growth. When you are stressed, your body produces glucocorticoids which increase blood sugar levels while inhibiting your immune system. That could also lead to break outs.
I suspect I started having acne after being prescribed anti-biotics for an ulcer. My memory is faulty so I can’t be too sure, but I don’t remember having trouble with acne before. It was a broad spectrum anti-biotic so that event may have significantly disturbed the micro-flora in my body. I remember having trouble with my digestive system for the longest time. As far as I can tell, we don’t really understand the role of micro-organisms in our body even though they play a key role in our health (for example bacteria in your colon synthesize key vitamins that you need).
I guess the take-away here is to focus not on the chemicals, but the micro-biota for treating acne. I have tried the no washing technique after reading people rave about it, and it was a disaster. I realize now that it probably didn’t work for me because the composition of my micro-biota is not optimal. The holistic nutrition focused approach to combat acne is the only effective approach in the long run. Your body knows best how to regulate these problems so your job is to give it the tools it needs to fight the battle.
Be careful about what you consume. Do your research and be skeptical. FDA is great about toxicity, and America has the safest food supply in the world. But there is almost no research funded on long term effects of certain food additives/ hormones/ residuals aside from animal toxicity tests. No one has an incentive to fund those studies because food products are held at lower standards than drugs, and you can’t exactly patent hormones.