What Are the Worst Foods for Acne?

Woman eating yogurt What Are the Worst Foods for Acne?

Diet is a key part of health, and your skin’s health is no exception. Studies show that certain foods can trigger breakouts if you have acne. So it’s best to know what to avoid. Here are some foods to cut out of your diet if you’re struggling with breakouts (and what to eat instead).

What to Know About Food and Acne

Have Acne? Avoid These Foods & Drinks

While it’s always important to see your dermatologist for targeted acne treatment, making a few changes to your diet may help as well. Here are some foods and drinks that might trigger breakouts.

  • Sugar: If you have a sweet tooth, cutting back might be beneficial to your skin. Sugar is a high glycemic ingredient that spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels. This spike may cause the skin to produce more oil, leading to an uptick in breakouts.

  • Refined Carbs: Refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta act similarly to sugar. The body digests these ingredients quickly, resulting in an insulin spike. If you have acne, consider cutting down on these types of foods.

  • Milk: Researchers have long grappled with the link between dairy products and acne, but it looks like milk might be the worst culprit. Skim milk in particular seems to increase your acne risk. And while the link isn’t completely clear, scientists believe the hormones in milk could be to blame.

  • Fast Food: Typical fast food contains refined carbohydrates, sugars, and fats. Some people who eat fast food often may develop more acne. Much like the other foods on this list, fast food may alter hormone and blood sugar levels.

  • Alcohol: While an occasional drink likely won’t mess with your skin, too much alcohol may contribute to acne. Alcohol can lead to inflammation and mess with your hormones, leading to more oil production in the skin.

Remember, cutting out one single food might not cure your acne overnight. But improving your diet in general can supplement acne medications and treatments.

Eat These Skin-Friendly Foods Instead

In addition to sticking to an acne skincare routine, consider adding more of these foods into your diet.

  • Fatty Fish: Fish like salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This anti-inflammatory ingredient can support your skin’s health by preventing sun damage and may keep acne breakouts in check. Plant-based sources of healthy fats like avocados and nuts are also great to add in.

  • Fermented Foods: Scientists are continuing to research the gut-skin connection, and studies show that a diet rich in probiotics might reduce inflammation and acne. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha are just some of the foods rich in probiotics.

  • Vitamin-Rich Produce: Piling vegetables onto your plate and snacking on veggies ensures that you’re eating your vitamins, and these healthy habits may also prevent acne. Vitamins D, E, A, and zinc are particularly beneficial to your skin, so try to reach for foods with these nutrients.

  • Grains: Getting enough fiber in your diet can keep your gut healthy, which benefits your skin as well. Grains like quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and barley are all great options.


Eating an acne-friendly diet is only part of the equation. The team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists offers acne removal treatments based on your skin’s needs. Based in Carson, CA and other communities in the Greater Los Angeles area, we provide cosmetic, medical, and surgical treatments for our patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.

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