Skin and Diet: An Update on the Role of Dietary Change as a Treatment Strategy for Skin Disease

Rajani Katta, MD; Mary Jo Kramer, BSc


Skin Therapy Letter. 2018;23(1) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


An increasing body of research indicates that dietary change may serve as a component of therapy for certain skin conditions. This includes conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, aging skin, psoriasis, and rosacea. Certain nutrients, foods, or dietary patterns may act as disease "triggers", while others may prove beneficial. Avoidance or elimination diets may be helpful in some conditions, although testing may be recommended first. In terms of beneficial effects, an eating pattern that emphasizes the consumption of whole foods over highly processed foods may help in the treatment of certain skin conditions, and will certainly help in the prevention of associated co-morbidities.


Dietary change has long been considered an important treatment strategy for certain skin conditions. For example, dermatologists have long discussed the role of dietary triggers in rosacea and insulin resistance in acanthosis nigricans. As an increasing body of research has demonstrated, dietary change may play a role in treatment strategies for other skin diseases as well.

In this review, we focus on five major skin conditions for which dietary change may be advised as one component of treatment. As a quick Internet search will reveal, there is much misinformation on the link between skin and diet. Some recommendations are ineffective, while others are potentially harmful, such as untested dietary supplements or severely restrictive elimination diets. It is critical, therefore, that physicians be well-informed in this area in order to provide evidence-based recommendations.

In this article, we review information on specific nutrients, foods, or dietary patterns that may act as disease "triggers", as well as those that may prove beneficial in therapy. This review provides a synopsis, highlighting promising research findings.