Can food allergies cause acne?

Can food allergies cause acne?

When you hear the word allergy, you probably associate it with asthma, hay fever, sneezing, coughing, sore eyes and skin conditions such as eczema, but did you know a food allergy or intolerance can be an underlying cause of acne?

As it is National Allergy Week, we have compiled a useful guide to help you figure out whether your acne is a symptom of a food allergy or food intolerance.

How do food allergies cause acne?

When you are allergic or intolerant to certain foods you may experience symptoms such as hives, bloating, wind or vomiting. 

Substances which cause your body to react are called antigens and as well as dust mites, pollen and animal hair, these can include foods such as shellfish and eggs.

If you are allergic, when antigens invade your body it defends itself by producing antibodies – proteins designed to neutralise the antigens. It’s the follow on-reaction between antibodies and antigens inside your body which is responsible for producing the allergic reaction.

Eating food that your body is allergic to leads to this continuous toxic reaction as your immune system fights the food as if it were an invading organism. This reaction can contribute to skin inflammation and trigger acne.

How do I know that it is a food allergy causing my acne?


It can be difficult to diagnose whether a food allergy is the root cause of acne due to the time delay between what you eat and your skin’s reaction to that food. 

If you have an allergic reaction to a particular food or ingredient, the symptoms can be immediate. However, in some instances, some time can elapse before symptoms are apparent after eating a particular type of food so many people often do not even consider the allergic reaction as being linked to their diet. 

It doesn’t help that certain foods, such as fast food, dairy and wheat, are so predominant in our diet and that many of us eat them every day. Therefore, it is almost impossible to see a clear pattern emerge that links the symptom – acne – to the cause – an allergy or intolerance to a particular type of food.

The best way to determine the cause of your acne is to try changing or eliminating certain foods from your diet to see if there are any notable changes in your skin condition.


Deciphering the cause of your acne is all about trial and error.

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance? 

A food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in your body, causing a range of symptoms. In some cases, an allergic reaction to food can be severe or life-threatening. 

Food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious although of equal concern. When your body is unable to digest food it can result in a number of digestive related symptoms such as nausea, stomach gripes and flatulence as well as skin congestion and acne breakouts. 

How Do I Determine if I Have a Food Allergy or Intolerance? 

Food allergy

If you think you may have an allergic reaction to food, you should consult your doctor. They may do a skin prick test, applying a small amount of the allergen to your skin, or an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood test to check for antibodies in your blood.

Food intolerance

There is only one sure way of determining if you have a food intolerance and this is by keeping a food diary while following a ‘food exclusion’ diet.

Firstly, this means eliminating one food at a time and avoiding eating that food for at least a two week period. If your skin inflammation symptoms improve during this time it is likely that the food you have eliminated is responsible for your acne.

The second part of the test is the reintroduction; eat a small portion of the food that you have been avoiding and look for any of the symptoms developing over the next 24 hours. If no allergic reaction occurs, then try the same food the following day and re-assess. If allergy symptoms flare up, then it is suggested that you avoid this food.

Common food allergens that could trigger an inflammatory skin condition

A number of foodstuffs that we consume on a regular basis can have side effects that include skin inflammation. The most common food allergens are foods that are rich in omega 6 fats such as eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, shellfish and fish.

Other foods that can cause an allergic reaction are alcohol, sugar, wheat, and tree nuts as well as fast foods that are high in calories, fat and refined carbohydrates.

It might seem that every food you eat has the potential to cause or exacerbate your acne. However, it’s more than likely that if you are experiencing an allergic reaction to a food product then it’s relatively easy to identify the food allergen by keeping a close eye on ingredients in pre-packaged foodstuffs. When dining out, restaurants are now obliged to list their ingredients and highlight potential food allergens so you can be more confident in your food selection.

Every now and then you may slip up and find it hard to resist the food you love that you are aware also triggers skin inflammation. 

If you suffer from acne breakouts as a result of eating a known food allergen, you may want to try our skin care product, PRAVENAC help: clear skin, which is a natural acne treatment

With anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, it is formulated to be gentle on your digestive system and can help treat your acne and reduce inflammation within as little as 4-6 weeks of daily use.

PRAVENAC help: clear skin is free from gluten and is suitable for vegetarians, diabetics and people with lactose intolerance.

For more information on National Allergy Week please visit: https://www.allergyuk.org/awareness-weeks/awareness-weeks