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Does Dairy Food Cause Acne?

Does Dairy Food Cause Acne? Does Dairy Food Cause Acne? Does Dairy Food Cause Acne?


Many foods get blamed for causing acne. Although no conclusive evidence appears to justify the accusation, greasy foods such as pizza, chips and chocolate bars and dairy products may be partially responsible for your breakouts. In addition to taking good care of your skin by gently cleaning it on a daily basis, smoking cessation and following a healthy dairy-free diet will help get acne under control.

Correlation Between Dairy and Acne

In adolescents, milk is associated with the prevalence of acne, as published in the August 2009 issue of "Experimental Dermatology." This correlation is even stronger in male teenagers drinking skim milk. The fact that the consumption of dairy products are correlated with acne problems does not indicate that this food group is the cause of acne, but rather signals that it may be a potentially interesting area of research to examine to establish the mechanisms underlying this correlation.

Mechanism Underlying Acne

German researchers Bodo C. Melnik and Gerd Schmit explain in the August 2009 issue of "Experimental Dermatology" that dairy products can be contributing to acne by stimulating the release of large quantities of insulin that lead to high levels of insulin-like growth factor 1. These hormones are both involved in the stimulation of the overproduction of oil by your sebaceous glands, which puts you at risk of developing zits and pimples.

Is Dairy the Problem?

Although a mechanism has been proposed to explain the connection between dairy and acne, there clearly is a lack of evidence to support the hypothesis. However, the simplest way to find out whether dairy may be problematic in your case is to try following a dairy-free diet for a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Eliminate milk, yogurt, cheese, whey protein, butter and any other dairy from your diet, at least for a few weeks. It may be a good idea to take a picture before and after your experiment to see if you notice a difference. If your skin appearance is improved by eliminating dairy, you will know that the association between dairy and acne is true, at least in your case, and you will likely benefit from a lifelong elimination of these foods.

Other Considerations

If dairy does not appear to be causing your acne or if the elimination of dairy alone improves your skin health but does not completely resolve your acne, consider other dietary factors. Apart from dairy, the main foods that raise insulin levels include carbohydrate and sugar-containing foods. Reduce your carbohydrate and sugar intake by eliminating soft drinks, candies, desserts, muffins, granola bars, large amounts of pasta, rice, potatoes, breakfast cereals and other grains, for a few weeks to see whether you see improvements.

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