Is dairy and acne actually a thing? For some, milk may contribute to acne breakouts. This article explores the latest research on the link between the cow and the pimple, and what you can do about it.
Dairy might contribute to acne in some people. If you’re reading this article you’re interested enough to explore this link to see if it will help you. So read on!
(This article is informational only — please be sure to consult your health care professional).
What is the Link Between Dairy and Acne?
Some research shows that dairy products may contribute to acne. Operative word being “contribute”, as dairy doesn’t seem to actually cause acne itself. So if you already have a predisposition to acne, consuming dairy might increase breakouts.
Wait… do all dairy products contribute to acne?
Interestingly, only cow’s milk has to be shown as a possible factor. Other products like yoghurt and cheese haven’t shown the same link to acne.
How? What does dairy have to do with breakouts?
This isn’t clear (can we please get clear already?!) — however one theory is that drinking milk increases inflammation, perhaps from increasing the hormone insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). In turn, inflammation contributes to acne.
Whey Protein and Acne
Drinking a whey protein shake after the gym is an easy way to get protein and help with recovery. However, some studies have shown a link between whey and acne, particularly with nodules and pimples appearing on the back and body.
If you drink whey protein shakes it might be worth experimenting by stopping them for 2–4weeks and noting any changes to your skin.
What about lactose intolerance?
As we get older, a slight lactose intolerance/sensitivity can become more common (source WebMD — includes symptoms). You might have been able to happily drink glasses of milk as a kid, only to find it makes you nauseous or bloated now.
If you suspect this is you, a simple elimination experiment can help. Cut out milk for 2–4weeks to see if it helps your skin (and feeling overall). Also please see you doctor if you suspect any sensitivity.
So should you cut out dairy to help acne?
If you suspect dairy may be contributing to your acne breakouts, it might be worth experimenting with. If there is an underlying cause of acne, no amount of external skin care products will help completely.
So determining any of these causes and dealing with them is well worth it!
Please see your doctor before any dietary changes, but below are some general points to keep in mind:
- Improvements in acne from diet changes can take up to 10weeks to show, so (unfortunately) patience is necessary. Just remember, it’s worth finding out! If eliminating milk does help then you’ve effectively found at least one of your keys to clear skin!
- If you use whey protein supplements, stop using them for 2–4weeks and see if your acne improves. This might be particularly helpful if you suffer from back acne or body breakouts
- When doing any sort of elimination experiment, it’s a good idea to keep everything else the same. So don’t try to change other aspects of your diet or lifestyle too much. That way, if dairy and acne are a “thing” for you, this should be reasonably obvious.
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