Can you treat your acne with the right diet?

Acne is a very common skin issue in people of all ages. If you have ever struggled with acne, you may have heard of a few foods to stay away from. You might now avoid grabbing a greasy burger because you believe it will cause a new pimple to pop up, and you might not be wrong. Recent studies do show a correlation between diet and acne, but I bet it’s not for the reasons you think. Let’s take a look at what components of your diet truly cause your breakouts.


High-glycemic foods

High-glycemic foods are foods that are easy for your body to turn into sugar. American culture has conditioned us to crave lots of high-glycemic foods and beverages, unfortunately. These foods include white bread, doughnuts, potato chips, fries, white rice, and sugary drinks just to name a few. Researchers have found that when people made the switch to a low glycemic diet they had less acne. A study was done placing 2,258 patients on a low-glycemic diet originally to just lose weight, little did they know they would learn something more. Along with losing weight, 87% of them said they had less acne, while 91% of them said they needed less acne medication than before. 

Why do high-glycemic foods increase your acne?

  • High-glycemic foods cause your blood sugar to spike, which causes inflammation throughout your entire body. These spikes also cause your body to create more sebum, an oily substance in your skin. If you can lessen your bodies inflammation and excess sebum, it will lead to less acne!

What’s the best way to change your diet to avoid this?

  • Adding low-glycemic foods to your daily routine is the best way to make the change. These foods include fresh vegetables, some fresh fruits, steel-cut oats and most beans. If you can find a way to incorporate these types of foods into your diet, while eliminating the french fries and milkshakes, your skin will thank you. 



Some studies are suggesting a milk to an increase in acne breakouts. Although it is a low-glycemic beverage, a few studies found that all types of milk (whole, low-fat, and skim) have been leading to acne. One study looked at patients aged 10 to 24, who were all seeing a dermatologist for moderate to severe acne, along side patients in the same age group seeing a dermatologist for a different skin condition. They were all asked what they ate and drank on a daily basis. The only difference in diet they found, was the patients being seen for acne drank significantly more milk than the patients with little to no acne at all. 

Why does drinking milk increase your acne?

  • As with many medical conditions, more research is needed to uncover the exact reasoning behind this. One theory is that the hormones in milk cause inflammation in your body which can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. 

What’s the best way to change your diet to avoid this?

  • With all the milk alternatives out there, it makes it easy to swap out the 2% milk in your fridge for perhaps almond milk instead. Maybe try getting coconut milk in your next Starbucks coffee. This change will not have the same effects on each and every person, but as someone who has struggled with acne for longer than they want to admit, anything that could possibly get rid of acne breakouts is worth a try!

What does all this mean for you?

As talked about above, each person will see different results when changing their diet. One thing that dermatologists recommend is that you pay attention to your breakouts and take note if certain foods or beverages seem to trigger them. If you do find a trigger item, what happens if you don’t have that food or beverage for a day, a week, or a month?

If you have questions, or are wondering if you are a good candidate for professional acne treatment, call to schedule a consultation with our Board Certified Dermatologists Dr Michelle Legacy and Dr Lynn Sikorski.

“Can the Right Diet Get Rid of Acne?” American Academy of Dermatology, 14 Dec. 2018,