Acne and diet

Has anyone with acne made dietary changes that got rid of it?

I've had terrible and constant breakouts for the past few months. I only developed acne in adulthood but it's definitely gotten worse over time and I can't really figure out why. I keep having the same ones come back in the same places and they never really fully go away. I also have many closed comedones, some of which weren't there before (possibly skin purging from the acne treatments?) My acne definitely worsens hormonally with my cycle. However I got my hormones tested with an endocrinologist in 2018 and they found no imbalances.

I've been eating a pretty similar diet my entire life. I do have major sleep issues but it's been that way for years. I'm using salicyclic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and exfoliation to treat the acne. I don't take any prescribed medications.

Anyway in the past couple of weeks I have cut back a lot on refined sugar and white flour. My acne has improved to some extent but still isn't totally gone. Like there aren't massive raised bumps anymore but they are still red and visible.

Last week I ate butter several times and, even though I washed my face after every time, I noticed a worsening of the closed comedones. I have noticed this in the past as well when I ate a lot of butter.

I have read that some research and many anecdotal accounts say dairy can worsen acne. Some say that cheese and yogurt don't cause acne and others say that all dairy does. I am considering giving it up but it would be very hard to do.

Has anyone else had good results from cutting out dairy for acne? And if so, how do you deal with the annoyance of being dairy free?


  • littlegreenparrot1
    littlegreenparrot1 Posts: 625 Member
    I find my skin is a lot better when I don't eat dairy.
    I only wish I had figured it out earlier.

    As too the annoyance, I just got used to it. Every so often I slack off and it creeps in, skin is currently still healing from the creamy Christmas indulgences.

    When I first tried it to see, there was a noticeable difference within a fortnight, so much so several co-workers noticed and asked what I was doing. So it's worth trying for a few weeks to see what happens.

    If it works it's then just a choice really as to whether it's worth it to you.
  • ElizabethKalmbach
    ElizabethKalmbach Posts: 1,416 Member
    Dairy or not has never made a difference for me, but the type of birth control I'm on or not makes a HUGE difference. After my daughter was born, the BC that had worked for me my entire life (ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel) stopped preventing acne, so I switched to a type with different hormone variants (ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate), and it cleared everything up again.
  • MarcyMavin
    MarcyMavin Posts: 142 Member
    Dairy also has never had an effect on me. Tried many elimination diets over the years, but finally bit the bullet and tried accutane. Best thing I’ve ever done, 6 months of the most sensitive skin you could ever imagine was the worst part. But haven’t had a breakout in a year and a half.
  • kali31337
    kali31337 Posts: 1,048 Member
    For me it was a combination of Differin Gel (now you can buy it OTC!! When I was on it, it was over $70 a pop WITH insurance) and time. In my early 20's I had some really bad cystic acne that not only covered my face but ran down my neck and shoulders and Differin Gel made a MAJOR difference. Then I would get hormonal breakouts that were tied to my period and those have lessened as I've gotten older.
    I'm very fortunate as my mother had major breakouts until her 40s and I thought I would have gotten that through the genetic lottery..
  • tuckerrj
    tuckerrj Posts: 1,453 Member
    I used to get acne periodically, even into my late 50's. I quit drinking, smoking and lost 50 lbs. and haven't seen so much as one pimple since. No way of knowing which of those 3, or all in combination was the cause.
  • petitchatnoir41
    petitchatnoir41 Posts: 56 Member
    I went on birth control and it made a huge difference. I also have gone vegetarian and cut most dairy out of my diet, which has helped with minor breakouts.
  • thescouselander77
    thescouselander77 Posts: 31 Member
    edited January 2020
    I used to suffer from acne when I was younger. I don't think diet is anything to do with it. The only thing I found effective was antibiotics and more recently (thanks to Mrs thscouselander) Salicylic acid.
  • DancingMoosie
    DancingMoosie Posts: 8,577 Member
    The pill or a medicated Rx gel were the only things that worked for me. My Rx may have been Differin, not sure. It was antibiotic gel for facial acne. Differin is probably worth a try since it is otc. If it doesn't help, see your doctor.
  • jdhcm2006
    jdhcm2006 Posts: 2,295 Member
    Find a good dermatologist in your area if you can afford it. The only thing that controls my hormonal acne is a combination of birth control and spirnolactone. That may be a combination you can try but talk to medical professionals first. Food doesn’t affect my acne, my hormones do and that combo got my hormones in check. I still have small breakouts close to my TOM, but’s 1 or 2 small pimples versus my cheeks and chin exploding in painful cystic acne.

    Look into BHA, AHA, and retinol as well (make sure you use a good sunscreen with those products as well). The InKey List & The Ordinary are good affordable brands. I hope you find what works for you.
  • gothchiq
    gothchiq Posts: 4,592 Member
    You might be allergic to something you are consuming or using. One big culprit is propylene or polyethylene glycol, which is in a surprising number of foods and care items. In allergic people it causes swelling of the facial skin and terrible acne, probably because the pores swell shut and trap sebum and bacteria inside. Talk to a dermatologist but also worth trying is getting glycols out of your life for a month and seeing if your skin clears. If it does, you have the answer. By the way, these compounds are often abbreviated. PG, PPG, PEG for example.
  • kenyonhaff
    kenyonhaff Posts: 1,377 Member
    Acne is a very complex condition. There are many potential triggers. And there are different types of acne. And the truth is that fundamentally that we don't know exactly what causes it at all.

    I had acne and adult acne from the age of nine on. For no particular reason whatsoever it cleared up about five years ago. It's possibly because I'm probably peri-menapausal but there wasn't any change that I did to cause it.
  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 2,853 Member
    I had an increase in acne when I started consuming whey composite protein powder a couple times a week. It cleared when I cut back on the protein powder. Although the protein powder is dairy based, I never noticed an acne connection to yogurt (100g almost daily) and cheese (20g occasionally). That's the only dairy I consume on the reg. Ok butter, too, but not in quantities sufficient to allow for observation of any correlations. Good luck figuring it out, OP.
  • steeheart
    steeheart Posts: 56 Member
    A few things to try.. Good skincare products. I’ve noticed an improvement after switching to Aesop.

    Change your pillowcase regularly, and wash hair more frequently.

    Drink lots of water.

    I’ve tried lots of elimination diets and nothing seems to affect my skin besides maybe peanut butter.