Acne FAQs: Can Allergies Cause Acne?
We often talk about the hormonal causes of acne, but did you know that immune system responses can also trigger pimples and pustules? You’ve probably noticed that you breakout more easily when you’re sick, due in part to your immune system fighting the illness. Like a virus, food allergies and sensitivities can also cause the immune system to react. This, in turn, means that food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances can help cause acne breakouts.
Allergic reactions (like inflammation, rash, and more severe symptoms) occur when the body is unable to properly digest the food that you’re allergic to. This allows improperly digested food particles to enter into the bloodstream. Because these food particles aren’t broken down into the individual nutrients that your body expects, your brain will tell your immune system that the body has been invaded, just as it would in the case of bacteria or viral infection. This causes the entire body to experience inflammation, which can lead to a slew of other allergy symptoms.
Any food allergy can lead to inflammatory acne, but dairy, lectin, and gluten are the most common culprits. Let’s take a look at these common food allergens, where they’re found, and how they can be avoided.
A dairy product is generally considered to be any food product containing cow’s milk. Occasionally, a dairy product will instead be made with goat’s, sheep’s, or buffalo’s milk, but the dominating raw ingredient of choice is cow’s milk.
Milk allergy, or lactose intolerance, is an extremely common allergy. In fact, many people believe that pasteurized and homogenized cow’s milk is simply indigestible by humans. This is due to the fact that the aforementioned processes destroy the milk’s natural enzymes which allow it to be comfortably digested. (This is supported by the fact that, barring an extreme milk allergy, lactose intolerant people can drink raw cow’s milk with no ill effects.)
Dairy products include everything from pure milk to cheese, yogurt and ice cream. There are a bevy of cow’s milk alternatives on the market, including soy, nut, and hemp milk, as well as cheese, yogurt, ice cream and more made with milk alternatives.
If you have a true milk allergy, or even particularly harsh lactose intolerance, you may want to consider using skin care products formulated without the use of dairy. Many skin care moisturizers, face cleansers, and even acne treatment products contain dairy due to its naturally exfoliating and moisturizing properties.
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that are present in most plants and animals. They assist their home carrier in many immunological functions, as well as protein synthesis and delivery. However, when ingested by an outside source, lectins wreak havoc on the digestive system by attaching themselves to the walls of the intestines. This can cause intestinal damage, cellular death, compromised villi, leaky gut, and more. In addition, these damages cause the body to redirect important resources to the now-damaged gut, resulting in fewer nutrients that are able to be used by the body for its every day needs.
Although lectins are found in most foods, some foods contain only trace amounts, while others are filled to the brim. Rather than scare yourself out of eating ever again for fear of lectin-induced intestinal damage, try limiting your intake of some of the main offenders, including grains, soy, legumes, and tomatoes. Because lectins are so prevalent, removing them from your diet is literally impossible. However, knowing the highest lectin sources and limiting your overall intake will significantly improve your overall health, as well as your intolerance-related acne.
Found mostly in grains, gluten is the composite of two proteins — gliadin and glutenin. Gluten sensitivity is a very common occurrence, though life-threatening allergy (known as celiac disease) is fairly rare. Sensitivity-induced reaction almost always takes the form of dermatitis, but other symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues are by no means unusual.
Gluten is found in many food products, including everything from bread to candy bars. While true gluten allergy is rare, many people are choosing to give up gluten, claiming improved health, clearer skin, and quality of life. This has led to a boom in gluten-free food products, making it easy to steer clear of the ingredient.
Acne induced by food allergies may be treated with traditional adult acne treatments; however, your condition will only be improved on the surface. In order to truly rid your skin of allergy-related acne, it is necessary to remove the offending foods from your diet, in addition to using acne treatments.