While a plethora of literature continues to be published on the role of nutritional agents both in lay press and indexed journals, the data is not on a firm footing and leaves the dermatologist in a quandry and the patient confused. The various agents include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, diets & gluten. A proper knowledge of the role of nutritional supplements in dermatological diseases can be a useful tool in advising the patients and in certain cases ameliorating the disorder.
Literature review of last 15 years was made using the terms “diet in dermatology,” “nutrition and skin,” “nutritional supplements in dermatology,” “nutritional agents and acne,” “nutritional agents and alopecia,” and “nutritional agents and psoriasis.”
While there are multiple publications on the use of nutritional supplements for amelioration of skin diseases, most of them are based on either associations or in vitro studies, but very few transcend the rigors of a clinical trial or the holey grail of a double-blinded randomized controlled trial. There seem to be some evidence in acne, psoriasis, telogen effluvium, urticaria & vitiligo. Coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis have a strong link with diet. Rosacea has a strong link with certain foods, but the other disorders like melasma, aphthous stomatitis do not have any scientifically validated association with diet.
Our updated review examines the role of nutritional supplements and antioxidants in various dermatological disorders. We have found that there are varying levels of evidence with notable associations of low glycemic diet & acne, fish oil & weight loss with psoriasis, fish oils & probiotics with atopic dermatitis & vitamins & botanical extracts with vitiligo. The evidence for diet and nutrition in bullous disorders and photoageing is scarce. The role of low histamine diet in urticaria is useful in select cases of episodic urticaria. Rosacea is triggered by hot and spicy food . Apart from gluten and Dermatitis Herpetiformis, no diet can be considered disease modifying in our reveiw. The lack of comparison of nutritional or dietary modiffication with conventional validated agents, makes the data difficult to translate in real world patient management.