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Does my diet or dairy cause breakouts?

The current evidence regarding food affecting acne breakouts it still controversial. It is very difficult to study to the role of diet in acne.

Some studies, have found possible associations with low-glycemic, low-protein, low-fat and low-dairy diets with improvements in acne. These benefits are thought to be related to the diet’s effects on lowering insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IFG 1). Insulin induces male hormones (androgens), glucocorticoids and growth factors. These can worsen acne by increasing keratinisation and sebum production. Most of these studies have been criticised for their quality, and their association is subject to many confounding factors.

Other studies have found weak associations with cow’s milk increased acne. This is hypothesised to be due to androgens, oestrogen, progesterone, and glucocorticoids in milk. These factors can also provoke keratinisation and increased sebum production. However, there is no strong evidence that milk, high-fat foods, or chocolate increases the risk of acne.

It is a good idea to have a healthy balanced diet with consumption of whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, less red meat, and to moderate alcohol intake. Limiting consumption of high glycemic index foods such as sugar, biscuits, cakes, ice creams, and sugary drinks is also prudent. However, changing your diet does not always help with acne.

Always seek medical help early if you are concerned about your skin.


1Yosipovitch G et al. Study of Psychological Stress, Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris in Adolescents Acta Derm Venereol 2007; 87: 135–139


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