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Can a Ketogenic Diet Cause Skin Spots?

A ketogenic diet, such as the Atkins diet, is a diet in which you consume virtually no carbohydrates, instead filling up on protein and fat. Consuming few or no carbohydrates puts your body into a state of ketosis, which can cause unwanted side effects. A ketogenic diet is safe only for certain people, so consult your physician before starting one.


When on the ketogenic diet, dieters consume foods high in fat and protein while severely restricting their carbohydrates. Physicians may prescribe a ketogenic diet for the treatment of epilepsy. In children who have not responded to different antiseizure medications, the diet may help to control seizures. Some people also use this diet to lose weight or to "get cut" in weight lifting. Eating few carbohydrates causes ketosis, or elevated levels of ketones in your bloodstream as your body begins to burn fat. In this state, you feel less hungry.

Ketogenic Diets and Skin

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Ketogenic diets may cause a variety of side effects; however, the relationship between high-protein diets and the skin is not clear. No scientific evidence suggests that high-protein diets cause skin spots. A 2009 study published in the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” found that 80 percent of dieters on the South Beach diet, which is a ketogenic diet, noticed an improvement in their skin. However, 13 percent of participants consuming a ketogenic diet experienced skin rashes in a 2004 study published in the “Annals of Internal Medicine.”

Side Effects

Other dangerous side effects can accompany elevated ketone levels in your bloodstream. Ketosis can also cause constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, bad breath and gas. Too much protein can also cause kidney stones, an abnormal heart rhythm and increase your chance for infection and other illness. Excessive levels of ketones can put a strain on your kidneys when they're already working harder to filter out excess protein. Consuming too few carbohydrates can cause you to feel very fatigued, a common side effect of ketogenic diets.


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Consult a physician before you begin a ketogenic diet. You'll need to have your ketones tested regularly so your doctor can monitor your levels when on this diet. A registered dietician can also help ensure that you are getting enough nutrients while on this diet. If you're concerned about skin spots while on a ketogenic diet, talk to your physician or dermatologist. Skin cancer can appear as skin spots, so it is important that a doctor examine any discolorations.