From genetics and stress to the overuse of harsh beauty products, there are a number of reasons why people suffer from embarrassing acne breakouts. You’re probably well aware of these factors, and despite your best efforts, you still cannot seem to find a solution for your recurring acne. If you’ve exhausted all possibilities and are tired of spending hours at the dermatologist, there is one more culprit you might want to investigate: food allergies. Aside from causing intestinal upset or even flu-like symptoms, food allergies can also cause acne.
What Is a Food Allergy?
You may have heard the terms “food allergy” and “food intolerance” but aren’t really sure how they differ. Food “intolerance” basically means your body reacts negatively after you consume certain foods, such as eggs, peanuts or poultry. However, a food “allergy” is a much more serious issue that involves an immune system reaction or response after a particular food is consumed. Typically in adults, this response is manifested in a variety of symptoms, including dizziness, itching, hives, nasal congestion, or swelling of the tongue, lips, face or even throat. On the severe end, a food allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, or a life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by a rapid heartbeat, swollen throat or an inability to breathe.
Why Food Allergies Cause Acne
Let’s say you’re suffering from an allergy to dairy products, which according to the Mayo Clinic is the most common type of food allergy. After you consume milk or cheese, your body quickly begins digesting these foods. However, your immune system might consider some of the innocuous proteins found in milk or cheese potentially harmful foreign invaders. In response to the perceived threat, your body begins to produce histamines. These histamines cause the inflammation and itching many people with a food allergy experience. For a select few, the inflammation manifests itself as a severe type of breakout known as cystic acne. A typical cystic acne breakout is characterized by large nodules called “cysts.” These sometimes painful cysts can easily spread across the face and body after a person suffering from a particular allergy consumes certain foods.
Do I Have a Food Allergy?
If you suspect a food allergy is the cause of your acne, the Mayo Clinic suggests keeping a food diary before speaking to a doctor or dermatologist. Keeping a diary that tracks your diet and acne breakouts helps doctors create a connection that could lead to the diagnosis of a food allergy. An allergy skin test is another way doctors often diagnose a food allergy. During the test, the doctor introduces a small amount of the allergen — in this case, food — to your skin through a small needle prick. If a reaction in the form of redness or a bump occurs, this is often a signal you’re suffering from a food allergy. However, one of the most effective ways to determine if your acne is caused by a food allergy is through an exclusion diet. Basically, this diet entails excluding certain foods from your diet, including dairy, peanuts or eggs, for a set amount of time. If no acne breakouts or fewer breakouts occur after you remove the food in question from your diet, this is often a clear indication you might be suffering from a specific food allergy.
If you suspect a food allergy is the culprit, the easiest way to eliminate the problem is to exclude certain foods from your diet. However, the allergy might be only one of many reasons why you’re suffering from acne. If you’re dealing with troublesome breakouts, there are many home remedies for acne to consider trying. For example, if you’re suffering from oily skin, try treating your breakouts with tea tree oil or witch hazel. Both natural products help lessen the amount of sebum your skin produces while eliminating the bacteria that can also cause acne breakouts. If dry skin is the issue, create a simple moisturizing mask by combining egg whites and yogurt. However, be aware that if you suffer a breakout of cystic acne after using the mask, it might a sign you’re suffering from an allergy to dairy.
About the Author: Janice Taylor is a blogger and certified yoga instructor. She enjoys coming up with homemade remedies for all skin types and is known for her brown sugar facial scrub.