Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

By Shannon R., SELF magazine

Valentine's Day is approaching which means candy, chocolate, flowers and....acne? It has long been believed that sweets (particularly chocolate) can lead to acne breakouts. Is this really true? Should you pass on the chocolate hearts to save your skin?

Before I answer I should first talk about what causes acne:

Causes of Acne

  • Overproduction of oil
  • Irregular shedding of dead skin cells
  • Bacteria buildup

See more: Foods That Fight Cellulite

Acne occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Once the follicle becomes clogged it creates an environment where bacteria can thrive. Other factors that can worsen acne are:

  • Hormones - Hormonal changes can result in acne, which is why teens and even pregnant women often experience breakouts.
  • Medication - Certain medications are known to cause acne.
  • Stress - Too much stress can also wreck havoc on your skin.

Related: 21 Good-For-You Snacks

Does chocolate cause acne?
Good news - the prevailing scientific research suggests that chocolate does not contribute to acne (yeah!). So does that mean you can gorge on candy this Valentine's Day? Not quite. There have been studies that suggest that a high-sugar diet (including lots of carbohydrate-rich foods) can increase blood sugar which may trigger acne. The truth is, there is some conflicting data regarding how diet affects acne and more research probably needs to be done. However, based on data currently available I think treating yourself to a few chocolates is perfectly fine without worries of bad skin (just don't eat the whole box!).

See more: The Healthiest Cities for Women

How do you treat acne?
The two most effective acne-fighting ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These ingredients are found in virtually all commercially-available acne treatment products. They work by helping to unclog the infected hair follicle and killing the buildup of bacteria. The key to using these products is to be consistent with your regimen. It may take some time before you see results. If you have severe acne, you should talk to your doctor - there are prescription strength acne treatments available.

Bottom Line
While indulging in a couple of chocolates or conversation hearts this Valentine's Day is a fun way to celebrate, moderation is key (as with most things!). A diet high in sugar can have negative implications for your skin (and your health).

More from SELF:

20 Superfoods for Weight Loss
Yoga Moves for Flat Abs
38 Antiaging Foods
Gwyneth Paltrow's Arm and Ab Workout