5 Things that May be the Root of your Acne

If you struggle with acne, people may have told you that it’s just hormonal, or that you were just born with unusually oily skin. These might be true, but sometimes there’s more going on than merely hormones or excess oil. Often, there are lifestyle habits or health conditions that might be making a hormonal outbreak worse; and oily skin frequently has an underlying cause besides just “you have extra oily skin.”

Here are five factors to consider as you’re trying to track down the root of your acne troubles:


We’ve written several posts on this blog about how foods like sugar and dairy can contribute to acne. When the body digests foods like dairy, or starches like wheat or potatoes (and of course sweet stuff like desserts), it turns to sugar in the body. Too much sugar can cause insulin spikes and other issues. For more about insulin and its effect on your skin, read on.

Insulin Issues

We often think of insulin as something that is related to the disease diabetes. Insulin resistance can contribute to a lot more than just diabetes, however. Insulin resistance can cause inflammation, as well as disrupting other hormones and proteins in the body. [1] Inflammation and hormone disruption can result in acne. A way to keep your insulin levels healthy is to eat foods with a low glycemic index (GI) – that is, foods like fresh vegetables and lean meats that do not turn into sugar quickly in the body.

Lack of Sleep

You can read this post for an in-depth look at how sleep – or the lack thereof – can affect your skin. One of the biggest factors is a rise in cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and a chronic lack of sleep lowers your immune system and boosts your cortisol levels. Cortisol can a major contributor to acne breakouts. [2]

Too much Caffeine

Caffeine can be another culprit behind elevated cortisol levels. If you’re a big coffee drinker – or a tea, soda, or even chocolate lover – then try adjusting your diet to reduce or eliminate caffeine. Too much caffeine can also interfere with your digestion – read on to learn more about digestive health and acne.

Leaky Gut

The human digestive system is kept running smoothly due in part to bacteria – good bacteria that helps in the breakdown and absorbtion of food. Basically, when the balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria gets skewed in favor of the bad, nutrients aren’t processed as well as they should be, and toxins that should be eliminated can leak out of the gut and into the bloodstream. Issues like food allergies, fatigue or depression, gas, and skin problems can result from this bacteria imbalance and leaky gut. Inflammation prompted by this bacteria imbalance can manifest as acne. The best way to move your gut back towards proper functioning (and thus help clear your acne) is to restore the bacteria balance. Probiotics, whether from a supplement or from fermented foods like yogurt, can help replenish your body’s supply of good bacteria. [3]


If you’ve tried topical acne treatments like different cleansers and scrubs to no avail, then it might be time to try looking inwards. What you eat or how much you sleep could be the root of your acne troubles and the key to finding clearer skin.


1. https://www.dermaharmony.com/adultacne/dietinsulinandyourskin.aspx

2. http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/acne

3. http://www.acneeinstein.com/the-gut-skin-axis/

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