top of page
  • Cheyanne Mallas

The Relationship Between Diet & Acne

Acne, a common skin condition that affects people of all ages, can often be linked to diet. In particular, a diet high in refined carbohydrates, dairy products, and unhealthy fats has been found to have a clear association with acne breakouts. While the metabolism of testosterone plays a role in acne, there is another crucial factor affected by diet—insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This hormone, closely tied to puberty, is one of the main reasons why acne tends to affect teenagers. In this article, we will delve into the relationship between diet and acne, exploring the impact of sugar, dairy, and certain fats on acne-prone skin.

The Influence of Sugar on Acne

One of the most significant dietary links to acne is a high sugar intake. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can influence the metabolism of both IGF-1 and testosterone in the skin. This, in turn, promotes the overproduction of sebum, the oily substance that clogs pores and leads to acne breakouts. Numerous experimental and clinical studies have demonstrated that a high sugar intake worsens the severity of acne. Therefore, reducing sugar consumption can be an effective strategy in managing acne.

The Role of Dairy in Acne

Milk and other dairy products have also been identified as problematic for many acne sufferers. Apart from containing unhealthy fats, dairy products also harbor hormones that can disrupt sebum production and contribute to increased levels of IGF-1. These hormonal imbalances can trigger acne breakouts or exacerbate existing ones. As a result, cutting back on dairy consumption may help improve acne symptoms.

Other Factors That Worsen Acne

It's not just sugar and dairy that can aggravate acne. Several other factors that affect blood sugar control and hormone levels can lead to a transient increase in skin sugar levels, ultimately worsening acne. Stress, for instance, triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that can influence insulin and glucose utilization. Nutritional deficiencies necessary for proper blood sugar control, along with conditions like abdominal obesity, can also contribute to acne breakouts. Considering these factors and making appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes is crucial for managing acne effectively.

The Importance of Iodized Salt

In addition to eliminating sugar and dairy, it is essential to watch out for foods high in iodized salt. Acne sufferers often exhibit extreme sensitivity to excessive iodine intake, which can lead to the development of acne lesions. By avoiding foods rich in iodized salt, individuals with acne-prone skin can minimize the risk of aggravating their condition.

Eliminating Fried Foods and Trans-Fatty Acids

Fried foods and those containing trans-fatty acids should also be avoided by individuals struggling with acne. These unhealthy fats not only contribute to overall inflammation in the body but also specifically trigger inflammation in sebaceous glands—the glands responsible for producing sebum. By eliminating fried foods and foods high in trans-fatty acids, individuals can help reduce inflammation and potentially alleviate acne symptoms.

Nutrients for Acne Management

Certain nutrients play a critical role in managing acne. Zinc, for example, has been shown to produce excellent results in double-blind studies. It is an essential mineral that supports immune function, reduces inflammation, and aids in the healing of acne lesions. Incorporating zinc-rich foods or considering supplementation under medical guidance can be beneficial for individuals with acne-prone skin. Additionally, high-chromium yeast, which improves glucose tolerance and enhances insulin sensitivity, has shown promising results in uncontrolled studies. Other forms of chromium may offer similar benefits.


In conclusion, diet plays a significant role in acne development and severity. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, dairy products, and unhealthy fats can contribute to excessive sebum production and hormonal imbalances, leading to acne breakouts. By understanding the impact of certain foods on acne-prone skin, individuals can make informed dietary choices to manage and potentially improve their condition.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Q: Can I still enjoy sweet treats if I have acne-prone skin?

  • A: While it's best to limit your sugar intake, occasional indulgence in moderation is unlikely to have a significant impact. Focus on an overall balanced diet.

2. Q: Are all dairy products equally problematic for acne?

  • A: While dairy products as a whole can potentially aggravate acne, some individuals may find that certain types, such as skim milk or whey protein, have a stronger impact on their skin. Experiment and observe how different dairy products affect your acne.

3. Q: Are there specific foods that can help acne symptoms?

  • A: While no specific food can magically cure acne, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can support overall skin health and potentially contribute to managing acne.

4. Q: How long does it take to see improvements in acne after making dietary changes?

  • A: The timeline for improvement varies from person to person. It may take several weeks or even months to notice significant changes. Consistency in dietary modifications, along with other acne management strategies, is key.

5. Q: Should I consult a healthcare professional for dietary recommendations regarding acne?

  • A: Consulting a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or registered dietitian, can provide personalized guidance based on your specific condition and needs. They can help develop a tailored approach to managing acne through diet.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page