Background: Acne vulgaris is a widespread and complex skin condition affecting mainly young adults in developed nations. The correlation between diet and acne has long been debated. Some medical providers routinely advised acne prone patients to refrain from eating excessive sugar and certain foods such as French fries or chocolate however other medical providers dismissed this idea as myth. Recent studies have demonstrated a relationship between certain dairy products and acne severity, particularly in young adult populations. Furthermore, the adoption of Western diets in non-Western countries, such as Korea and Malaysia, could also be associated with an increase in acne. The primary aim of this literature review is to address the relationship between certain dairy products and acne severity in young adults of Korea and Malaysia.
Methods: An exhaustive literature search of available medical literature was performed using MEDLINE-Ovid, MEDLINE-PubMed, Cochrane, EMBASE, Web of Science, CINAHL, and EBM Review Multifile. Keywords used included: acne, acne vulgaris, dairy, and dairy products. Relevant articles were assessed for quality using GRADE.
Results: Forty-one articles were found and reviewed for relevancy. Two studies fit the inclusion criteria and were included in this systematic review. Both studies were case-control studies. In both studies, dietary data was collected by self-completed questionnaires and a dermatologist evaluated acne severity. Both studies found a positive association with certain dairy products and acne vulgaris. This supports the idea that diet has a role in the severity of acne in young adults of certain Asian descent.
Conclusion: The results of this literature review support the correlation between acne vulgaris and certain dairy products amongst Korean and Malaysian young adults. Further research including clinical trials is needed to evaluate the links between dairy and acne. Longer study periods and follow-up is needed to evaluate long-term effects of diet modifications and acne severity. Additional research is also needed to determine if medical nutrition therapy is effective against acne formation. Given these studies, nutritionists and dermatologists should recognize a possible correlation between diet and acne when treating patients with acne vulgaris. This connection should be considered in addition to conventional methods for the treatment of acne.
Keywords: Acne vulgaris and dairy products.
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