A Close Look at Foods that Cause Acne

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 30, 2021

    A Close Look at Foods that Cause Acne

    Acne, known as comedo, is a common skin condition that occurs because of an increased production of oil, known as sebum, from the sebaceous glands. This over-production of sebum causes inflammation of the hair follicles or the surface of the skin. The excessive oil secretion is the most common amongst adolescents who have reached the age of puberty, the age that is dominated by widespread hormonal changes. It is also more prevalent amongst women experiencing imbalances in their menstrual cycle and also pregnant women. It has long been believed that certain foods can also cause or trigger acne, while others refute the claims.Below is a list of foods that cause acne. Avoid including these in your daily diet, or at least restrict their intake, for an acne-free life.

    Foods That Cause Acne

    Red meat

    Worried about the frequent acne breakouts? Restrict the intake of glycemic food products like red meat as much as possible. Research says that red meat can aggravate your acne. Some examples of red meat are beef and mutton.

    Milk chocolate

    It is believed that chocolates may cause new pimples or aggravate the acne condition. But wait, don’t be disheartened! It is perhaps not cocoa but the other ingredients in chocolate like sugar, milk, etc. that make chocolate one of the foods that cause acne.

    If dark chocolate is your weakness, you needn’t be worried. Not only does it have a lesser comedogenic effect, i.e. acne breakouts, it is also known for its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are a treat for the skin.

    For milk and caramel chocolate lovers, we hate to break the news for you, but you need to look for a healthy alternative for your chocolate cravings. Switch to dark chocolate, maybe? However, every person reacts differently, hence it is best to check what suits you or seek an expert’s advice.

    Refined flour

    Refined flour is a known trigger for acne breakouts. Food products like bagels, breads (especially white bread), desserts, puffed rice, noodles, pasta, etc. are just a few examples of food items that are made from refined flour.

    Breakfast cereal

    Yes, you read that right! Your breakfast cereal is one of the foods that cause acne. Quick breakfast options that are meant to make our lives easy during the rush morning hours are rather our foes than friends.

    Packaged breakfast cereals like cornflakes, bran flakes, and other similar products often contain much more than just healthy ingredients like corn, oats, and bran. These include excess sugar, salts, fats, and other ingredients that may trigger acne.

    Fried foods

    Love to dig into those sinfully delectable french fries and crisps, the burger patty cooked to perfection, and the deep-fried meatballs? Well, there’s hardly an exception there. Add to this list all our favorite snack items like fritters and pretzels.

    All that shines, gleams, and glitters is not gold. Greasy, fried food drips in saturated and trans fats that may aggravate acne breakouts. Indulging in these delectables once in a while may not wreck havoc to your skin. However, digging into them in almost every meal or every now and then may be harmful for your skin. Keep a close watch on the quantity and frequency at which you consume fried food. Reserve such foods that cause acne for your cheat day only.


    Milk is not one of those food products that can be digested easily. However, the same is not true for milk products like yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. Include sufficient quantities of these milk products in your diet, but don’t overdo them either.

    What sets milk apart from milk products is that the latter contain probiotic bacteria. This is a certain type of bacteria that acts upon milk to turn it into yogurt and cottage cheese. This bacteria, known as probiotic bacteria, helps in easy digestion, preventing the risk of acne and other health conditions.

    Difficulty in digesting milk may trigger acne breakout in some people. Besides, acne is especially common amongst people with lactose intolerance. Lactose is one of the proteins present in milk that makes digestion difficult and may cause skin problems amongst people who are hypersensitive to it. Such allergic reactions typically manifest themselves through acne, itching, redness of skin, etc.

    What about the unhealthy milk products? Well, ice cream and all the other sinful desserts should also be reserved for your cheat day only.

    Certain fruits and veggies

    Some fruits and vegetables are high on the glycemic index (GI). These fruits and vegetables, which are considered foods that cause acne, include potatoes, pumpkins, pineapples, melons, etc. These may trigger acne or cause a flare-up. This does not mean that you should completely ignore these fruits and vegetables altogether. You can have them in restrictive amounts.


    Most alcoholic drinks contain high quantities of sugar that raise the risk of developing acne or worsening the skin condition. Again, sugar – which is a glycemic food is problematic when it comes to preventing acne.

    Apart from acne, excessive consumption of alcohol also increases the risk of other serious medical conditions like heart diseases, dementia, etc. It creates complications not only for your skin, but for almost every organ in your body. However, intake of alcohol in moderate amounts may not be harmful; just don’t overdo it. It is usually advised that consumption of alcohol be restricted to no more than 2 glasses per day for men and no more than 1 glass a day for women.

    Therefore, keep away from these foods that cause acne and instead shift to a healthy anti-acne diet. Certain age groups cannot avoid acne for a certain period as part of their hormonal changes. However, avoiding these foods will help manage the condition better.

    Learn more about Acne here.


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

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 30, 2021


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