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Link Between Caffeine and Acne

By Kay Uzoma

Attention to the link between foods, such as those containing caffeine and acne, is growing in the medical field. This is due in part to the discovery that acne is practically non-existent among some tribes living in remote areas, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Foods that exacerbate acne can differ from person to person, so it takes monitoring your diet and breakouts to determine which foods trigger your acne. More research is needed on caffeine and acne, but you can discuss this with your doctor.

What Is an Acidic Food?

Acidic foods — or more technically, acid-forming foods — are foods that lower the pH of your body to below 7 on the pH scale. Acid-forming is the more accurate term because some foods that are naturally acidic, such as citrus fruits, are alkalinizing when consumed. Your body is healthiest when its pH is 7.35 to 7.45, which is only slightly alkaline. Besides caffeinated foods or beverages, other acidic culprits include grains, dairy foods, meat and alcohol.

Acidity and Acne

One of the key problems acid-forming foods such as those containing caffeine pose is that they increase stress and inflammation in your body. Inflammation plays a significant role in acne, especially in cystic acne, which penetrates deeply into your skin and leads to pus-filled pimples. Furthermore, acidic foods reduce cells’ ability to repair, which is problematic considering that acne damages skin. Reducing your intake of acid foods such as those with caffeine may help to lower inflammation, help cells to repair and improve acne.

Anti-inflammatory Diet and Acne

The Western diet, which is full of those acid-forming foods that worsen inflammation, is not the best diet if you’re battling acne. Instead, a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet contains a lot of skin-friendly, anti-inflammatory foods, such as fish, vegetables, legumes, unsaturated oils such as olive and some fruits, such as citrus, strawberries, sour cherries and tropical fruits. Juices made from these fruits and vegetables are preferable to beverages containing caffeine when you have acne. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts and almonds also make the grade.


Although there’s no research proving a link between caffeine and acne, in a study published in the “Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal” in November 2006, Jordanian acne patients cited a list of factors they believed aggravated their acne. Caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee were listed, along with chocolate, fried foods, eggs, fatty food and cakes and biscuit. Only you can determine if consuming caffeine worsens your acne. If it does, you may want to try limiting your intake or eliminating it from your diet altogether. Keep in mind that besides coffee and tea, other foods and drinks also contain caffeine, including caffeinated sodas and some chocolates.

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