Your skin is an incredibly complex organ that affects every aspect of your life. Many health conditions unrelated to your skin may cause skin symptoms. Lack of sleep, increased stress, nutritional deficiencies, and diet can all affect your skin.
For all these reasons, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions or immediately change your diet if you develop a skin condition. Theresa Durchhalter, DO, FAAD, at Allure Dermatology, can sort through all the possible causes, determine if your diet is to blame, and recommend the best treatment for restoring beautiful, healthy skin.
Skin conditions don’t show clear signs that your diet is behind the problem. But there are some well-known connections between skin issues and the foods you eat. Knowing them can help you decide if you should dig deeper into your diet.
A breakout isn’t always a sign that your diet is to blame. In most cases, hormones are the root cause of acne. But some foods may cause acne or contribute to inflammatory acne.
Foods that cause a spike in your blood sugar levels are directly associated with acne. The top causes include high-glycemic foods, such as sugary drinks, sweets, white bread, and rice.
High blood sugar boosts insulin levels and contributes to inflammation. Insulin leads to the hormonal changes responsible for acne, while inflammatory foods can worsen your existing acne.
Your diet is directly connected to chronic skin conditions, where certain foods trigger symptom flare-ups. Here are three examples:
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that develops when a group of skin cells grows faster than usual, builds up, and creates scaly plaque patches.
Your diet can lead to psoriasis flare-ups and increase overall inflammation. For this reason, it’s important to identify your food triggers and follow an anti-inflammatory diet based on fish, lean meat, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, may trigger psoriasis flares, but only if you have a gluten sensitivity. You can also improve psoriasis by losing weight (if needed). Studies show that losing weight decreases psoriasis severity and flare-ups because fat contributes to inflammation.
Rosacea causes facial redness and rashes. The foods you eat rank among the top causes of rosacea flare-ups. Each person has different triggers, but a few of the most common include hot drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, and red wine.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) arises from an overactive immune system, leading to inflammation that damages the protective skin barrier. Food allergies, contact allergens (like soap and plants), and allergies to pollen, mold, and dust mites trigger eczema flares.
Dry skin develops when the protective barrier breaks down, allowing water to leave your skin. The barrier may become damaged for many reasons, including:
Your dry skin may indicate that your diet doesn’t provide enough essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, D, and E.
Skin’s strength and resilience come from collagen and elastin, while hyaluronic acid binds with water to keep your skin hydrated. All three can only be produced with an adequate supply of specific nutrients. You also need fatty acids and other nutrients to build and maintain the skin barrier.
Healthy skin depends on getting all the essential nutrients, but four of the most important include:
As a powerful water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin C protects your skin from sun damage and is vital for producing collagen and elastin.
Vitamin E is another vital antioxidant that protects fats from damage due to sunlight and toxins. That makes it essential for protecting your skin barrier from damage and inflammation.
Your skin relies on vitamin D to support new skin growth and maintain the skin barrier. Topical vitamin D helps prevent DNA changes from sun damage.
Omega-3 fatty acids support the skin’s structure, maintain the protective barrier, and reduce inflammation. Like all essential vitamins and minerals, your body doesn’t produce omega-3s, so they must come through your diet.
If you struggle with acne or skin rashes, call or use online booking to schedule an appointment at Allure Dermatology and learn more about the effect of diet.