Loving the New Skin You're In

Experts offer solutions to dieting-related skin problems

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson, MD

You've finally made the commitment -- you're on a weight loss program. And you're starting to see some results.

But if you're like many dieters, you may also see something you weren't expecting: skin problems! While switching to a lower-fat, lower-calorie eating plan is good for your body, don't be surprised if your skin doesn't think so -- at least for the first few weeks.

"In the beginning, even a healthy diet can stress your system, and there is no question that it's stressful enough to impact your skin," says David Goldberg, MD, director of Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York/New Jersey and a clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York.

'Dieter's Acne'

One of the most common problems is a condition loosely defined as "dieter's acne" ­ either breakouts that occur for the first time, or an acne condition that worsens when you begin a new eating plan.

"Part of it has to do with the overall change in the kinds of foods you are eating, which can stress the system initially," Goldberg says. "But I also think it's related to the whole process of dieting, which can be very stressful. ... And there's no getting around it, your skin will show how you feel."

When we're stressed, a cascade of hormonal activity takes place, some of which can influence our skin. For those who have never had skin problems, this activity may be enough to initiate a breakout. If you start your diet with an oily complexion and occasional breakouts, Goldberg says, dieting can make it seem worse -- at least at first.