AAD: Consuming Pure Chocolate May Worsen Facial Acne

NEW ORLEANS – Could chocolate exacerbate acne after all?

Dermatologists have long dismissed the idea that diet is related to acne, despite some patients’ insistence that eating chocolate, for example, seems to worsen their skin disease. But a new study has demonstrated that the consumption of pure chocolate does, in fact, exacerbate acne in a dose-dependent fashion.

Previous studies have failed to show a link between acne and the ingestion of chocolate. But these negative studies were conducted with chocolate candy, which contains sugar, milk, and other adulterants, according to Samantha Block. What’s different about the new study is that it was performed with unadulterated chocolate made of 100% cacao, Ms. Block explained at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

She reported on 10 male subjects (aged 18-35 years) with one to four acne comedones and/or papules on the face, but no nodules, pustules, or cysts. The investigators sought subjects with this minimal degree of facial acne so that any changes during the study period would be easily detected. The participants were invited to eat up to 12 oz. of Ghirardelli unsweetened, 100%-cacao chocolate at a single sitting, or as close to it as they could come. They were instructed to consume their customary diet for the next week. They returned for facial acne lesion counts and photographs on days 4 and 7. None of the participants was on any prescription or OTC medication.

The mean total acneiform lesion count climbed from 2.7 at baseline to 13.4 on day 4 and to 18.2 on day 7.

“We saw a dose-dependent relationship. If you ate more chocolate, you developed more lesions, supporting the idea of a causal relationship,”