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Fish Oil for Acne: Is It Effective Against Common Skin Problems?

Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD · Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Jun 19, 2023

Fish Oil for Acne: Is It Effective Against Common Skin Problems?

Fish oil is a type of dietary supplement which consists of omega-3 fatty acids. When taken (in capsule, liquid, or pill form), fish oil provides numerous benefits such as improved muscle activity, cell growth, brain function, and disease prevention. The essential fats found in fish oil cannot be produced by the body, so they must be sourced from food. While fish oil supplements are known to have a wide range of health benefits, fish oil for acne is a lesser known use. How effective is it?

Benefits of Fish Oil Supplements

There are two omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in fish oil, namely, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA can be found in fatty fish like salmon, shellfish, mussels, oysters, mackerel, trout, and crabs. Another type of omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can be found in other consumable foods that are not fish, for instance, seeds, vegetable oils, and nuts. These fatty acids have many health benefits.

Fish oil also comes in three common formulations: pill, capsule, and liquid. Fish oil is usually taken by people due to its ability to treat inflammation. According to a growing body of research, fish oil supplements are able to treat the following conditions:

Heart Disease

Studies have shown that people who take fish oil have a lower chance of experiencing heart disease. However, these studies have also shown that taking fish oil provides little to no benefits to the heart. It helps solely in heart disease prevention and does not improve the health of a heart. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Taking fish oil supplements can help in providing relief from rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms such as pain, joint tenderness, and morning stiffness can be addressed by fish oil supplements. Take note that fish oil does not treat this type of condition effectively, it only alleviates discomfort from arthritis. Also, fish oil prevents people from taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. 

High Blood Pressure

Fish oil supplements can slightly lower blood pressure, especially for those who have (moderate to severe) high blood pressure. There may not be any noticeable reduction of blood pressure for people with elevated (mild) blood pressure if they choose to take fish oil supplements. 

High Triglycerides and Cholesterol

Taking high doses of omega-3 can reduce triglycerides, a kind of fat found in blood. As for cholesterol, fish oil supplements increase both good and bad cholesterol. 

Skin Issues

Numerous studies have shown that fish oil supplements provide benefits to skin conditions such as skin cancer, dermatitis, eczema, allergy, and melanogenesis. The fatty acids of fish oil can improve the skin’s barrier and aid in healing wounds as well. Studies have shown positive results for people with moderate to severe acne. 

Is Fish Oil Effective Against Acne?

Fish oil for acne is effective to some extent and here is why. 

In one study, male participants, 18 to 40 years old, with varying acne severity (mild, moderate, and severe acne) were given fish oil supplements. Take note that the participants were not taking any acne medications or treatments, or omega-3 supplements. 

After 12 weeks of continuously taking fish oil supplements (in capsule form), those who had moderate to severe acne had drastic improvements on their acne. On the other hand, there were participants who had mild acne beforehand and did not experience any changes. And there were some whose acne worsened. 

Researchers of the study hypothesized that fish oil for acne is only effective for individuals with moderate to severe acne, compared to those who only have mild acne. They also stated that fish oil may not have any noticeable effect in people who have mild acne because not much improvement could be made because of the acne’s low level of severity.

The study also concluded that fish oil for acne is quite effective in reducing inflammation.

Safety Tips When Using Fish Oil 

Before taking any fish oil supplements, make sure to:

  • Follow the dosage indicated on the label of your fish oil supplement. 
  • Take fish oil supplements with food.

Here are some more safety tips to consider:

  • Make sure that you are not allergic to the fish oil supplement before taking it. If you have allergies, consult with your doctor for other alternatives to treat your acne. 
  • Do not take fish oil supplements with other medications as interactions may occur and cause blood clotting. So if you are taking fish oil for acne and are taking other oral acne medications, it would be best to just stick to either one. Do not take both medications at the same time. 
  • If you are in good health, then it is not necessary to take fish oil for acne. Instead, you can consume fatty fish. 
  • When buying fish oil for acne, avoid supplements with fish liver oils since they do not have that much omega-3 in them. 
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil supplements contain Vitamin A. 
  • If you are taking blood thinning medications, consult with your doctor about consuming fish oil for acne since these can thin your blood as well. 

Key Takeaways

Fish oil supplements are an effective treatment for people who suffer from moderate to severe acne. If your acne is mild, then it may be best to take topical medications instead. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements. There remains much research to be done on supplements as these can also have negative side effects to one’s health.

Learn more about Acne here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mia Dacumos, MD

Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Jun 19, 2023

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