WASHINGTON -- It's time to dispel myths that chocolate causes acne and that the troublesome teenage skin affliction can be washed away with soap and water, a report filed with the Food and Drug Administration says.
The report, submitted Monday, said acne is caused by hormonal changes that occur at puberty -- and not caused or aggravated by chocolate or junk foods.
The hormonal activity affects oil-secreting glands under the skin; and for 80 percent of all adolescents, the result is acne, the report said.
'The panel believes 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. 'Unfortunately they were often disappointed.'
The report also noted that over the years, some studies have claimed to show a connection between sexual activity and the skin ailment. There was insufficient evidence to support those claims, the report said.
The FDA received the report from an advisory panel that began reviewing over-the-counter drugs nearly a decade ago.
In many cases, acne can be successfully treated with non-prescription drugs, the study said. The report said the most effective treatments are lotions, creams or jellies containing sulfur or benzoyl peroxide or sulfur-resorcinol combinations.
The report said products containing benzoyl peroxide or sulfur reduce skin lesions. 'Continuous use also reduced development of new lesions,' the report said.
Products combining benzoyl peroxide with sulfur should be sold only with a prescription, the report said. 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.'
The effect of the diet on acne is 'still being studied,' the report said.
But the study concluded that evidence showed chocolate had 'no effect on the clinical course of acne.'