Does my anti-inflammatory drugs suppressing my acne have any negative long-term effects?
August 17, 2007 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently on rather strong (NS) anti-inflammatories for a medical condition. As a side-effect, my (mild) acne has has cleared up almost entirely. I'm making the most of the situation by binging on chocolate now that I have the chance, but is this going to come back and bite me in the ass once I go off the anti-inflammatories? What purpose, if any, does the inflammation of acne serve, and what are the consequences of it being suppressed?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
There is no link between chocolate and acne. Nor are there any links between oily foods and acne (assuming you aren't rubbing said oily foods on your face) Thus you can binge now, and binge forever.

I know this because I had very severe acne - severe enough so that I was one of the first persons in the US to have Accutane when it came on the market. Rather obsessed with this topic.

There is some evidence that too much simple sugar and unrefined carbohydrates in the diet, because of the well-known insulin spike that everyone has, may, MAY, exacerbate acne in some individuals, so you may want to watch that. If the hypothesis turns out to be bogus, well, cutting back on refined carbs is smart for health anyway.
Too much caffeine can do that too via a cortisol spike, but we're talking like 8 cups a day. Your average coffee consumption won't make much difference. Both of these spikes can raise DHT levels (Di-hyrotestosterone) a form of testosterone that causes male pattern baldness and is implicated in acne. Having severe acne, BTW, doesn't mean you will go bald. It is possible your skin is ultra-sensitive to DHT where your hair isn't.

But to answer question, binge away. As I understand and remember, acne is caused by sebaceous glands and pores being inflamed, this causes the pore to narrow, where the acne bacteria (Which I believe is a type of staph) eats the sebum, multiplies, and you've got a zit. The hormonal rages of puberty, especially DHT starts the cycle in motion. I think there is no downside of it being suppressed other than general side effects of whatever suppressant you take.

IANAD or a D(erm) but an obsessed layperson. Ignore me if a doctor tells you what I am saying is bulls**t.
posted by xetere at 2:12 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are different kinds of acne and it is a multifactorial condition. I have heard different theories: that ingesting chocolate causes certain oils in the chocolate to be excreted unchanged in the sebum, which bacteria like to eat; that eating chocolate causes change in the amount and composition of sweat and sebum because of the caffeine and theobromine it contains; that a mild allergy to chocolate results in the activation of subcutaneous mast cells and IgE in the skin, resulting in a predisposition to inflammation that is then triggered by the normal skin flora. The trouble with using a large study of acne patients to refute that chocolate is an acne trigger is that if the condition is in fact multifactorial in etiology, then the large study may contain a few people for whom it's true and a lot of people for whom it's not.

P. acnes is a bacteria implicated in some kinds of acne; it's generally accepted that acne inflammation is at least in part related to the immune response in the skin, an immune response that exists to protect you against such bacteria. P. acnes isn't a staphylococcus but it certainly lives in close association with them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:26 PM on August 17, 2007

Seconding xtere up there - acne is not exacerbated by the foods you eat, generally speaking.

Mind you, what might bite you in the ass is the weight you'll gain from eating all that chocolate!
posted by LN at 4:31 PM on August 17, 2007

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