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Adult Acne and Food Allergies

By Diane Marks ; Updated July 18, 2017

It’s common to associate hives, a stuffy nose or diarrhea with a food allergy, but if you suffer from adult acne, food allergies may be the cause. Adult acne is an onset of acne that occurs after adolescence during adulthood, which can be embarrassing and difficult to cure. If you notice that your acne gets worse after eating certain foods, you should talk with your doctor or allergist about the potential correlation between the two. Do not change your diet solely based on symptoms without first talking with your doctor.

The Connection

According to the Innate Center for Food Allergies, located in Seattle, food allergies are the primary cause of acne. When you have food allergies, your body creates toxic chemical reactions every time you eat the allergen. In some cases, it is difficult to avoid certain food allergens, such as dairy, wheat and eggs. The continual release of toxins causes inflammation in the skin and in other parts of the body, resulting in skin rashes and acne.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are caused by a hypersensitivity of the immune system to the proteins found in particular foods. The most common food allergies include wheat, soy, eggs, fish, dairy, tree nuts and peanuts, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The allergic reaction occurs because the immune system mistakes the proteins as an invading substance, such as a virus or bacteria. This causes the immune system to attack the food proteins and leads to the production of immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies and histamine. Histamine causes inflammation and irritation in the skin, which can lead to acne.

Elimination Diet

One of the most effective ways to determine if your adult acne is related to a food allergy is to implement an elimination diet. An elimination diet needs to be performed under the guidance of a medical professional and is not intended to diagnose a medical condition. Talk to your doctor about which foods you should eliminate from your diet. Eliminate those foods for two weeks and keep a journal about your acne and any other symptoms. After the two-week elimination period, reintroduce each food one at a time back into your diet to see how your body reacts.


If your doctor determines that you have a food allergy, the most effective treatment for your adult acne is to permanently eliminate that food from your diet. Talk with a dietitian about a modified diet that will still provide you with essential nutrients.

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