Women's Health

Does eating dairy cause skin problems?

Acne affects 80 percent of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. But the causes of acne differ from person to person.

A number of medical studies suggest that dairy may play a role in breakouts. Yet, it is still unclear what specific components of dairy may be responsible for your rogue zit.

Some nutritional experts suggest that all dairy—including organic products—contain natural hormones, which may influence the development of acne.

But can moderate intake of relatively “healthy” foods like milk and cheese really cause breakouts? The answer: maybe.

“Acne is caused by a complex interaction of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors,” says Dr. John Fox, an Advocate Medical Group dermatologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. “The studies investigating acne and diet often give conflicting results, but studies have shown that diet may be a significant factor in some individuals.”

Dr. Fox says that some people may want to consult their physician to see if cutting dairy from their diet might be an option to try and heal their skin.

“Eliminating dairy for a few months can help you determine if dairy is contributing to your breakouts,” says Dr. Fox. “I recommend that any change that affects acne (medications, birth control, diet, etc) should be given a three-month trial before measuring results.”

Dr. Fox says that physicians don’t generally recommend dietary modification as a sole treatment for acne.

“I think it is generally a good practice to be mindful of what we eat and put into our bodies.” adds Dr. Stephen Carter, another dermatologist at Illinois Masonic.

“A healthy diet and lifestyle have myriad benefits and may help to improve our skin, too.”

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