Foods That Make Acne Flare Up

About 45 million Americans suffer from acne each year, according to Tim Mitchell and Allison Dudley, authors of the book “Acne: The At Your Fingertips Guide.” Acne is a common skin condition, characterized by red, scaly skin, nodules, pimples, whiteheads, pinheads, blackheads and cysts 1. When bacteria, oil and dead skin cells accumulate on the surface of your skin, it can block your skin pores and trigger an acne flare. While the exact cause varies from person to person, oil, inflammation, blocked pores and bacteria may contribute to its development. It is important to avoid certain foods because they can irritate your skin and cause an acne flare-up.

Spicy Foods

If you have acne, limit or avoid spicy foods because they can cause your acne to flare up.

Fatty Foods

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A diet high in saturated and partially hydrogenated fats can cause your face to break out. Foods rich in saturated fats include:

  • packaged cookies
  • fries
  • fried chicken
  • fish sticks
  • chips
  • crackers

Refined Sugar

Avoid acne breakouts by reducing or avoiding foods produced with refined sugar.


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If you are prone to acne, avoid shellfish because it can cause your acne to flare up. Shellfish, such as:

  • shrimp
  • lobster
  • crab
  • crayfish
  • mussel
  • clams
  • contain large amounts of iodine
  • a trace mineral often associated with acne breakouts

High iodine levels can inflame your skin, clog your pores and cause

  • the appearance of red splotchy skin
  • according to Judith Brown
  • author of the book “Every Woman's Guide to Nutrition.” Other foods rich in iodine include cheese
  • milk
  • idolized salt
  • kelp
  • boiled eggs
  • fish sticks
  • cod
  • cooked navy beans
  • skinless baked potatoes
  • baked turkey breasts [5](# 'inline-reference::“Every Woman's Guide to Nutrition”; Judith E

Brown; 1990').

Processed Foods