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    Is eating dairy linked to acne?

    On this page
    1. What should I do if I have acne?
    2. Is it safe to give up dairy?
    3. Will cutting out dairy help with my acne?

    Different types of dairy - milk, yoghurt, cheese

    If you have acne, you’ve probably spent some time reading up on the condition to find out how to treat your symptoms.

    One popular method that’s often talked about on the internet is going dairy-free. A quick Google search of “dairy” and “acne” will bring up headlines like “I Gave Up Dairy—And My Adult Acne Vanished in Under a Month.” Some of these stories can be really convincing, which means you might have considered cutting out dairy yourself. 

    The truth is that, while there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, there is little clinical evidence to support claims that eating dairy can worsen acne. 

    Of the few studies that have been done, some support the idea that dairy is “bad” for your skin, including this one that looked at 225 teenagers with acne. But essentially, more research needs to be done. Until we know more, doctors can’t provide reliable advice to people with acne.

    As explained by the British Association of Dermatologists here, “There is…some evidence that consuming milk and dairy products may trigger acne in some people, but this hasn’t been studied in as much detail yet.”

    This is why the NHS doesn’t recommend a dairy-free diet as a lifestyle change for people with acne. 

    What should I do if I have acne?

    If you’re living with acne and struggling to manage your symptoms, the best thing to do is get advice from a medical professional.

    For mild acne, it’s a good idea to start by visiting a pharmacy and talking to the pharmacist. They might be able to recommend topical treatments (i.e. treatments applied directly to the skin) that help to reduce infection and inflammation.

    For more severe acne, it’s worth talking to a doctor about getting prescription treatment. Prescription treatments for acne include antibiotic tablets, topical retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and isotretinoin. 

    Some of these treatments are available through LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor – if you can’t get to your GP you can make a secure order with us. Start the process today by visiting our Acne clinic

    Is it safe to give up dairy?

    Yes, it’s safe to try cutting dairy from your diet, as long as you make sure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs.

    The NHS recommends incorporating dairy into your meals. This is because milk and cheese are a good source of protein and contain important nutrients like calcium. If you’re going to cut out dairy completely, even for a short period, make sure you’re eating foods that contain the same nutrients found in dairy.

    • Some good foods to incorporate in your diet include: 
    • Milk, yoghurt and cheese made from soy, rice, oat or nut milk 
    • Green leafy vegetables e.g. kale and spinach 
    • Calcium-fortified soy drinks and foods 
    • Breads made with fortified flour 
    • Fish eaten whole e.g. sardines and pilchards

    For more diet inspiration, consult the NHS Eatwell Guide

    Will cutting out dairy help with my acne?

    It’s hard to say! Any improvement you notice may be caused by multiple factors, or may only be temporary. However, if you’re happy to continue cutting out dairy, then there’s no problem with doing so – provided you eat a balanced, varied diet with all the nutrients your body needs.

    If you don’t notice a change in your skin, then there are plenty of treatment options you can try to manage your symptoms. Find out more by reading this article: How can I get rid of my acne?


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