Mythbusting: Milk and Acne, is there a link?
In honor of National Healthy Skin Month, let’s talk about skin health and the role that our diet can potentially play. Have you heard of specific foods that may cause an increase in acne breakouts? Many of you may have heard the myth about dairy products having a negative impact on skin health. But do dairy products really cause an increase in acne production?
The American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) states that acne is one of the most common disorders treated by dermatologists. Acne affects about 85% of adolescents worldwide, but it also can affect children and adults too. Many factors can contribute to the production of acne including genetics, hormones, and diet. While we have little control over or genetic and hormonal influences, we do have control over the foods we eat. This leads us to examine the foods we are eating every day and whether these are causing further acne breakouts. The spotlight is on you, dairy foods.
Based on the most recent research from the AAD, their article, Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris, concluded that there is some association between ice cream and skim milk consumption with increased acne production. However, these were based on observational studies that involved participants to self-report on the severity of their acne and their food intake. (Remember, studies that rely on self-report of diet can be unreliable because it's difficult to remember exactly what and how much you eat of different foods each day). They also found there to be no association between cheese and yogurt consumption with acne production. More long-term, randomly controlled trials (the gold standard of research) need to be done to confirm that dairy products have an impact on skin health.
The AAD does state that to have the healthiest skin possible; we should have a varied and balanced diet that includes foods from all the five major food groups. The research that they have done is not strong enough to conclude that we should eliminate milk or other dairy products from our diets. In fact, if we choose to cut out dairy completely from our diet, we would be missing out on some major nutrients that could negatively impact our overall health. The National Dairy Council states that dairy products contain nine essential nutrients and an 8-ounce glass of milk is packed with all of them: calcium, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, and pantothenic acid. Vitamin A and phosphorus are particularly important in developing and maintaining healthy skin.
The bottom line is that no current research shows dairy products to be the cause of those pesky breakouts. So instead of focusing on which foods to take out of the diet to improve skin health, we should be focusing on maintaining a varied and balanced diet to improve our skin health, and yes, this includes consuming foods from the dairy group each day.
“Does Milk Cause Acne?” , National Dairy 5 Sept. 2017,
Kohn, Jill. “Milk Consumption and Acne.” , Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,
Zaenglein, Andrea. "Guidelines of Care for the Management of Acne Vulgaris.”American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Dermatology, 17 Feb. 2016, www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(15)02614-6/pdf