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Your Diet and Acne: What You Should Know

While many strides have been made for acne treatment, sometimes you could be contributing to your acne without even knowing. Here’s some useful information regarding your diet and acne.

Diet Alone Doesn’t Cause Acne

First, it’s important to note that diet alone isn’t the sole cause of most acne. In the vast majority of cases, acne is caused by a number of different factors. For some people it’s hormones, and therefore birth control for acne is the best treatment. For others, oil and sebum buildup could be the culprit, and a strict skincare regimen can help. Diet is just one of many factors that can affect your skin. That being said, making small dietary adjustments could help your skin stay clear in tandem with the right acne treatments. But what foods are common culprits? Let’s take a look at a few.

Refined Grains and Sugars

If you have a grain or gluten sensitivity, you might already be aware that refined grains can irritate your skin. These kinds of grains can be found in foods like bread, cereal, desserts made with white flour, and pasta made with white flour. In addition, refined sugars like those found in sodas and other sweetened beverages may irritate the skin, as well. This is, in part, a result of how refined carbohydrates are processed by the body. They are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which means blood sugar levels rise rapidly, which in turn raises insulin levels. The insulin is what causes the problem, as too much insulin can in turn boost sebum production. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of refined carbs on acne-prone skin, but it’s likely healthier to eat less of these products anyway.


As much as you might love cheese, dairy products have historically been linked to acne in teenagers especially. That being said, the research done on dairy in relation to acne only proves correlation, not causation. Even so, if you have a sensitivity to dairy and you notice that it irritates your acne or your skin in general, it’s probably a good idea to cut back on your consumption. Like refined grains and sugars, dairy has been known to increase blood sugar and insulin levels in the body, which may contribute to sebum production and thereafter, acne. In addition, cow’s milk contains certain amino acids that stimulate IGF-1 production in the liver, which has been linked to acne in the past.

Any Foods You’re Sensitive to

Above all else, foods you already know you have a sensitivity to should be avoided. If you have a wheat sensitivity, dairy allergy, or any other kind of food sensitivity, pay attention to how those foods affect your skin. You may find that once you stop consuming a food you have a known sensitivity to, your skin clears up right away. Sometimes learning how to get rid of acne is as simple as that. If you’re not sure whether a certain food group is contributing to your skin problems, it could be a good idea to work with your doctor to develop an elimination diet plan. Under your doctor’s supervision, this could help identify which food groups you’re particularly sensitive to.

If your acne flares up when you eat certain foods, it’s worth seeing a dermatologist. Together, you can make healthy dietary adjustments for your skin health. If you’re concerned about your acne and have questions, contact SE Dermatology Specialists today.

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