WASHINGTON Neither chocolate nor sex can be blamed for the acne that afflicts nearly 80 percent of all adolescents, said a report submitted Monday to the Food and Drug Administration.
The skin condition is simply caused by hormonal changes that occur at puberty and affect oil-secreting glands under the skin, the report said.
The scientists said there is convincing evidence that many non-prescription drug products can be used to treat the condition successfully. The products found to be effective were lotions, creams or jellies containing sulfur or benzoyl peroxide or sulfur-resorcinol combinations.
‘The panel beleives myths or misconceptions about acne need to be dispelled, including those concerning diet, sexual habits and the belief that acne can be washed away with soap and water,’ the study said. ‘For years people suffering from acne believed that eating chocolate, fatty foods and junk food either caused acne or made it worse, and that abstaining from these foods would cure their acne,’ it added. ‘Unfortutely they were often disappointed.’ The report said the role of the diet is ‘still being studied.’
It said that chocolate has been ‘found to have no effect on the clinical course of acne’ and that over the years many unsupported studies have purported to establish a link between sexual activity and the skin condition.
The study was submitted to the FDA as part of the agency’s review of all over-the-counter drugs, a project which began in the early 1970s.
The panel said products that contain benzoyl peroxide alone or sulfur alone reduce skin lesions and ‘continuous use also reduces development of new lesions.’
But the study recommended that products that combine both benzoyl peroxide and sulfur should be sold only with a prescription. The panel said both of those ingredients are skin irritants.
‘Sulfur combined with resorcinol or resorcinol monoacetate was also judged effective,’ the FDA said of the report, ‘but resorcinol alone was not found effective. Products containing these ingredients have been available for many years, along with others containing less effective ingredients.’