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We practically all experienced those pesky teenage breakouts - but did you know that some can experience acne well into adulthood? One study showed that 50% of women and 42% of men experience acne in their 20s and 35% of women have acne persisting into their 30s [1]. Breakouts may also be more common at varying times in a woman’s menstrual cycle due to oscillating amounts of hormones. 


Acne, also called acne vulgaris, is achronic inflammatory skin condition affecting the sebaceous glands and the accompanying hair follicles [2]. Acne could cause inflammation and hyperpigmentation marks on the face, back and chest and cause psychological damage and low self esteem. 

Acne can be mitigated bytopical solutions and medication such as [3,4]:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide is used to kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin as well as causing the skin to dry and peel. 
  • Antibiotics: Topical and oral antibiotics work to kill the bacteria on the skin that causes breakouts as well as soothe redness and inflammation.
  • Retinoids: Retinoids are a derivative of vitamin A and encourage the removal of dead skin cells to prevent clogging of the hair follicle. It is recommended to apply at night and stay away from sun exposure. 
  • AHA/BHA: Acids are used to prevent the clogging of hair follicles and manage discoloration. 


Although topical ointments and other medications prove effective in treating acne -what you put in your body may be just as important if not more than what you put on it. 

Certain intolerances and genetics can play a role in how diet affects acne - but when it comes to acne, it is not so much what to eat but what not to eat. 

Mainly, we are looking to downregulate the activity of a certain growth factor called insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is released when there is a blood sugar spike, usually caused by diet. IGF-1 could cause the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce more oil and lead to acne blockages and inflammation [5]. 

Diet tips for acne and regulating blood sugar are [5,6]: 

  • Avoid dairy products: Studies have found acorrelation between dairy consumption and acne. This could bedue towhat we mentioned before abouttheIGF-1 and hormone production. Milk intrinsically is a hormonal fluid, not to mention the extra hormones added to dairy cows. Also, the majority of the world is indeed lactose intolerant. If your gut is unbalanced it is very likely that your skin will be unbalanced too - causing breakouts.
  • Avoid simple carbohydrates: Relating back to blood sugar spikes and IGF-1,cutting back onsimple carbohydrates like white bread,white rice,processed foods andsugar could improve acne. This isbecause simple carbohydrates causeblood sugar spikes andexcess sebum production. 

If you suffer from acne, a combination of what you put in your body and what you put on your body could provide that one-two punch to stop acne in its tracks. Try eliminating harmful foods or foods that you don't tolerate well and observe how your skin changes. 

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071019155627.htm
  2. 1069804-overview
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20368048
  4. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1344/benzoyl-peroxide-topical/details
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/anti-acne-diet#how-diet-affects-the-skin
  6. https://www.traciemartyn.com/blogs/news/a-holistic-nutritionists-guide-to-eating-for-adult-acne-1