Facebook Pixel

Can acne be caused by a food allergy and if so what kind of tests are available to find out which foods are responsible?

By February 11, 2010 - 5:19pm
Rate This

I am 42 years old and have severe back acne that is not going away. I have always had the occassional breakout on my back since I was a teenager. But I have had a severe case for 4 years now. I have tried everything and wonder if it could be diet related. My periods are regular and I have had my harmones tested and they are all in the normal range. I do break out on my face but it can be controlled with topicals. I have had moderate acne since I went through puberty. I tried accutane and it did not work. I have been on every type of antibiotic used for acne. I am hypothyroid (diagnosed in 2000 after the birth of my son) and am on levothroid (synthroid) .125mgs. Would love to have clear skin for once in my life!

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

If acne is increased by stress, is it still likely for a food allergy to be the cause?

February 18, 2010 - 8:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you Diane for responding. This has been very helpful!

February 16, 2010 - 6:22pm
(reply to Anonymous)


I'm so glad I was able to be helpful. Please let us know if there's anything more we can answer for you!

February 18, 2010 - 6:46am


Thanks so much for writing to EmpowHer! I hope we can be of some help to you.

Let me start with a couple of obvious questions (you probably answered these for yourself long ago in your quest to figure this out, but I need to start at the beginning):

You say it's been like this for four years. I am intrigued that you know exactly when it started. Did anything else change around that time? For instance, did you move to a different climate, or start a new medication around the same time?

Have you tried different detergents? Your back is one of the places on your body exposed to the most fabric from your clothing, and I'm wondering if there's a possibility that something in your laundry soap or fabric softener could be an irritant for you.

Do you work out? Don't forget to think about your workout clothes, or about how quickly you shower after a workout; the soap at the gym could be a culprit as well.

In terms of the allergy question, there are conflicting views. But many doctors believe it's absolutely possible for food allergies to contribute to acne. Your skin is your largest body organ, and it is reacting to something. In acne, something is clogging the pores, and the skin pore becomes inflamed.

Here's some information from foodallergysolutions.com:

"The worse the acne, the more likely food allergies are involved. Eating a food to which the body is allergic leads to a continuous toxic reaction. In such a case the immune system fights the food as if it were an invading organism. This can cause inflammation in the skin (and many other conditions), as well as the need to eliminate the toxin.

What Foods Cause Acne?

There isn’t just one food that causes acne. Any food allergy is capable of causing acne. However, the most common cause of acne that I see in my practice is dairy products.

Why Is It So Difficult to Recognize One's Own Food Allergy?

This is problematic because of the often delayed nature of food allergies. Allergy symptoms may show up hours or even a day later, after a food is well absorbed into your system. And acne generally doesn’t come and go quickly enough to be associated with food.

This difficulty is compounded by the fact that certain foods, such as dairy and wheat, are so prevalent in our diet that many people eat them nearly every day. Therefore connecting your symptoms with your eating habits is often nearly impossible.

What Causes a Food Allergy?

It is most likely that food allergies are genetically predetermined. In the big picture, humans have only recently introduced many current day foods into the diet, so it’s not surprising that the immune system doesn’t recognize every food as a friendly substance.

However, we undoubtedly do not understand everything there is to know about food or food allergies.

How Do I Determine if I Have a Food Allergy?

The only sure way to determine if you have a food allergy is to have your blood tested for antibodies to a variety of foods. This is done with an ELISA Food Allergy Panel, which measures your immune response to approximately 100 different foods.

You can find case studies and more information on the site:

Have you seen a dermatologist for your acne? Did anyone ever suggest or discuss the possibility of allergies with you?

There are also elimination diets and food challenges that doctors use with their patients when they are trying to determine allergies. Basically the way it works is that you go back to a very very basic diet for a period of time, and then add foods back into your diet one by one to see if they cause reactions. With acne, however, that may be a harder prospect because the reaction takes longer to develop.

Here's an explanation of an elimination food diet and food challenge:


You might also consider finding a naturopathic doctor. Naturopathic doctors are doctors who, instead of just treating symptoms, treat the whole body as one system. They focus on natural treatments with systemic effects. This post tells you how to find a good naturopath:


Might these things help? Do they give you a place to start?

February 12, 2010 - 8:54am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.