Certain foods have been blamed as the cause of acne and it has been suggested that chocolate, soft drinks, sugar, greasy foods, nuts, milk, salt, and even iodine should be eliminated from the diets of children with acne or even severe cases of blemishes. However, none of these foods has been shown in well-designed studies to increase the symptoms of acne.
Granted, poor nutrition will affect the body’s immune system and increase the possibility of children developing a number of health conditions and infections, including skin problems. Allergies to certain foods also can cause skin conditions other than acne, such as eczema. But, the addition of small amounts of chocolate or any other food to an otherwise healthy diet will not cause pimples, let alone acne.
Other food components also have been touted as possible treatments for acne. For example, vitamin A is said to help skin problems. However, it is not vitamin A, but a synthetic analogue of this vitamin, called retinoic acid, that is effective in treating acne. There is no credible evidence that vitamin A in foods, or its counterpart beta carotene in fruits and vegetables, is an effective treatment for acne or pimples. Limited evidence suggests that moderate amounts of either zinc-rich foods or a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that contains zinc might be somewhat helpful for skin problems, since this trace mineral aids in the normal functioning of the oil-producing glands in the skin, called the sebaceous glands. However, this evidence is sketchy at best. If you decide to try zinc supplements, make sure the dose does not exceed 10 milligrams for children under 10-years-old, 15 milligrams for teenagers, and 25 milligrams for an adult, since excessive intake of zinc can interfere with the absorption of other minerals.
Your best bet diet-wise for keeping a child’s skin healthy and blemish-free is to focus on low-fat, high-fiber, nutrient-packed foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nonfat or low-fat milk or soymilk products, cooked dried beans and peas, nuts, fish, and extra-lean meats. Cut back on highly-processed foods, which typically are higher in calories, fat, and sugar and lower in vitamins, minerals, and fiber than unprocessed foods.
Of course, daily and thorough cleansing of the skin to keep it free from dirt and oil is essential to healthy skin during childhood and adolescence. Regular exercise, effective stress management, and moderate exposure to sunshine are also important for health and the prevention and treatment of blemishes.