Acne and Milk or Dairy

Chronic and unlable acne (about 6% of the acne population) frequently involves wheat-induced inflammation. Another small segment of the acne population may have linoleic acid deficiency associated with whiteheads and possibly blackheads. These issues are covered in the Acne & Wheat and Acne & Essential Fatty Acids pages.

For another small percentage of the acne population, acne may be stimulated by milk and/or dairy products. Data from the Nurses Health Study II provided conclusive evidence of a positive association between the development of severe acne and cows milk. Milk contains hormones which may affect the sebaceous glands. These hormones can be absorbed into the body and find their way to the skin and sebaceous glands just like our own self-produced testosterone. These milk hormones stimulate sebum production.

In the nurses study a group of females who drank one cup of milk a day was compared to another group that drank three cups per day. The group that drank three cups a day was 22% more likely to have severe acne. It is supposed that the 22% group are more sensitive to hormone promoted acne. Other simultaneous factors can be involved, such as the beginning of the monthly cycle and/or stress. For example, a woman could drink two cups of milk a day and experience no influx in acne, but when two cups of milk daily are combined with the beginning of the monthly cycle and/or an unusual amount of stress, the combination creates a stimulation that causes an acne flare. If new infections seem to occur with the monthly cycle, being very thorough with the acne regimens and reducing dairy for 5-7 days before the cycle may provide a solution by reducing the acne stimulation to below the threshold level.

Hormonally-induced acne can be somewhat recognizable. It usually occurs along the chin and jaw line. It usually occurs with the beginning of the monthly cycle.