The Diet Acne Connection

Published:  09/28/2013

pretty woman with eyes closed

The relationship between diet and acne has been a topic of scientific investigation for many years. While there is ongoing research in this area, several studies suggest that diet can influence the development and severity of acne in some individuals. However, it is important to note that the impact of diet on acne can vary between individuals, and more research is needed to establish definitive conclusions.

While diet may play a role in causing your breakouts or worsening your acne, keeping your skin clear requires more than a diet change. Using acne friendly skin care and acne medication helps to prevent and treat existing acne break. 

Here is the best acne treatment skin care routine. 

Here are some key findings from studies exploring the connection between diet and acne:

  1. High glycemic load: Several studies suggest that consuming foods with a high glycemic load, such as sugary and processed carbohydrates, may worsen acne. These foods can lead to increased insulin levels and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which may stimulate oil production and inflammation, contributing to acne development.
  2. Dairy products: Some research indicates that consuming dairy products, particularly skim milk, may be associated with an increased risk of acne. It is hypothesized that hormones, such as insulin and IGF-1, as well as bioactive molecules present in dairy, could contribute to acne development.
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids: Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, may have anti-inflammatory properties and potentially help reduce acne severity. However, more research is needed to establish a clear link.
  4. Western diet: The Western diet, characterized by a high intake of refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and low intake of fruits and vegetables, has been associated with an increased prevalence of acne. This dietary pattern may promote inflammation and hormonal changes that contribute to acne development.
  5. Antioxidant-rich diet: Some evidence suggests that diets rich in antioxidants, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, may have a protective effect against acne. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are factors that can influence acne.

It's important to note that while these studies provide insights into the potential relationship between diet and acne, individual responses can vary. Factors like genetics, hormonal fluctuations, and overall skincare routines also play a significant role in acne development. If you are concerned about acne, it is recommended to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your specific circumstances. 

If you are interested in modifying your diet to help your skin, consult a registered dietitian

The Diet and Acne Connection Research Studies

Meixiong J, Ricco C, Vasavda C, Ho BK. Diet and acne: A systematic review. JAAD Int. 2022 Mar 29;7:95-112. doi: 10.1016/j.jdin.2022.02.012. PMID: 35373155

Penso L, Touvier M, Deschasaux M, et al. Association Between Adult Acne and Dietary Behaviors: Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(8):854–862. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1602 PMID: 32520303

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2007); 57 (2): 247-256. PMID: 17448569

Baldwin H, Tan J. Effects of Diet on Acne and Its Response to Treatment. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2021 Jan;22(1):55-65. doi: 10.1007/s40257-020-00542-y. Erratum in: Am J Clin Dermatol. 2020 Dec 26;: PMID: 32748305; PMCID: PMC7847434.

Diet and acne: review of the evidence from 2009 to 2020 Federica Dall’Oglio MD, PhD, Maria Rita Nasca MD, PhD, Federica Fiorentini MD, Giuseppe Micali MD First published: 18 January 2021

Abstract 314 submitted to the EADV Spring Symposium: ‘Deficit of Omega-3 fatty acids in acne patients

Kober MM, Bowe WP. The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2015 Apr 6;1(2):85-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ijwd.2015.02.001. PMID: 28491964; PMCID: PMC5418745.

Lee GR, Maarouf M, Hendricks AJ, Lee DE, Shi VY. Topical probiotics: the unknowns behind their rising popularity. Dermatol Online J. 2019 May 15;25(5):13030/qt2v83r5wk. PMID: 31220895.

Chilicka K, Dzieńdziora-Urbińska I, Szyguła R, Asanova B, Nowicka D. Microbiome and Probiotics in Acne Vulgaris-A Narrative Review. Life (Basel). 2022 Mar 15;12(3):422. doi: 10.3390/life12030422. PMID: 35330173; PMCID: PMC8953587.

Kostecka M, Kostecka J, Szwed-Gułaga O, Jackowska I, Kostecka-Jarecka J. The Impact of Common Acne on the Well-Being of Young People Aged 15-35 Years and the Influence of Nutrition Knowledge and Diet on Acne Development. Nutrients. 2022 Dec 13;14(24):5293. doi: 10.3390/nu14245293. PMID: 36558452; PMCID: PMC9784447.

Burris J, Rietkerk W, Woolf K. Acne: The Role of Medical Nutrition Therapy. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(3):416-430. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2012.11.016

Jung JY, Yoon MY, Min SU, et al. The influence of dietary patterns on acne vulgaris in Koreans. Eur J Dermatol. 2010;20(6):768-772. doi:10.1684/ejd.2010.1087

Kucharska A, Szmurło A, Sińska B. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016;33(2):81-86. doi:10.5114/ada.2016.59146

López-García C, García-Escobar I, Jiménez-Baena I, et al. Effects of a Low Glycemic Load Diet on Acne Vulgaris in Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Acta Derm Venereol. 2021;101(2):adv00534. doi:10.2340/00015555-3727

Categories:   Food  Health Conditions 

Tags:   #beauty #healthylifestyle

Active Nutrition is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising revenues by advertising and linking to Amazon. If you click on one of my recommended item links and then place an order through Amazon, I receive a small commission on that sale, at no extra expense to you of course. This is a way to support me and my work every time you shop at no cost to you.

Connect with Maria