Foods That Cause Acne

Hiba Nauman May 26 2015

What is acne?

Acne (acne vulgaris, common acne) is a disease of the hair follicles of the face, chest, and back that affects almost all teenagers during puberty. It is not caused by bacteria, although bacteria play a role in its development. It is not unusual for some women to develop acne in their mid- to late-20s.

Signs of acne

Mild acne usually causes only whiteheads and blackheads. At times, these may develop into an infection in the skin pore (pimple).

Severe acne can produce hundreds of pimples that cover large areas of skin. Cystic lesions are pimples that are large and deep. These lesions are often painful and can leave scars on your skin.

As sad as it is, acne is more than just skin deep, its causes as well as its effects. Acne can lead to self esteem issues and eventually depression. To solve these deep problems of the skin we need to control our diet in ways that would avoid such problems.

A lot of things in this list are good for us in different ways, but if your acne is severe then you need to avoid these foods at least until your skin is clear.


Although many researches claim that chocolates DO NOT cause acne, but let’s stick to what grandma said. Trust me; she had a good reason for saying that. Chocolates do not directly increase the amount of acne, however chocolate is a high fat/high sugar food, hence it increase the amount of sebum production, and open pores containing sebum are a good culture medium for bacteria.


Blame the hormones in dairy, says Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative and functional medicine physician and the founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. “Dairy causes spikes in certain pimple-producing hormones,” he explains. These food include our personal favorite cheese as well.

Substitute: Use coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk.


Nuts have numerous benefits along with the aforementioned other products that cause acne, but if finishing acne is on your priority list then you need to cut down on these. Studies show that high-glycemic diet can contribute to acne breakouts, whereas, science attests that a low-glycemic diet (i.e., high in lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables) seem to promote clean, healthy skin with fewer breakouts.


If you are a fan of Chinese food, this one might hurt you. Soy, often in form of tofu can trigger acne. “Phytoestrogens mimic natural estrogen levels, and that throws off our hormones,” says esthetician Kimberly Yap Tan, founder of Skin Salvation, an acne clinic in San Francisco. Soy derivatives show up in everything from veggie burgers to energy bars, so read labels carefully.


We did not want to hear this but here it is. “Sugar can absolutely cause breakouts, because it’s pro-inflammatory,” Dr. Lipman confirms. “Acne is considered an inflammatory condition, and someone with acne-prone skin should follow an anti-inflammatory diet.”

Substitute: Raw honey, Maple syrup


If you’re prone to acne, baguettes, croissants, and all that other good stuff may make the situation worse. “Wheat causes inflammation,” Lipman says. “And to get rid of acne, you want to reduce inflammation in your body.” Yap Tan points out that many commercially produced breads also have sugar, soybean oil, and dairy: “You could eat an English muffin and unknowingly consume three big triggers: dairy, soy, and sugar.”


We’ve already talked about how high-glycemic index causes acne. This is because science tells us that high insulin levels encourage an inflammatory response, in turn triggering the release of acne-promoting hormones. Sadly, the glycemic index of white rice is rather high.

You can substitute white rice with brown rice as it has a COMPARATIVELY low glycemic index.

Hiba Nauman

Hiba Nauman:

'Hiba is a dental student with a flair for writing. She takes caffeine very seriously, and loves experimenting with art. She strives to be a dental surgeon someday who not only performs surgeries but also spreads health awareness and free smiles.