Does Drinking Milk Cause Acne?

Written by Julie Fridlington, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on May 27, 2016 One Comment

milk cause acne

For some, the idea that milk could cause skin issues is tough to swallow. After all, milk is heavily promoted as being healthy for us as an essential source of calcium. Dairy is even listed as its own food group by The United States Department of Agriculture.

It turns out there may be some truth to the claim. There is a correlation between dairy consumption and acne that has been well documented in several scientific studies. Among the findings:

  • Milk contains the hormone IGF-1, which is good for helping babies grow. In adults, however, IGF-1 may lead to acne problems, both spurring breakouts and causing inflammation.
  • Dairy consumption causes a spike in insulin levels within the body, correlating to increased acne.
  • Dairy has been shown to spur excess production of sebum (oil) which leads to clogged pores, creating an ideal breeding environment of acne causing acnes bacteria.
  • Dairy consumption is linked to lower cellular turnover of skin cells, leading to clogged pores (and thus acne).

A 2008 study of milk consumption in teenage boys showed that subjects who drank milk experienced both an increased severity and frequency of acne breakouts, compared to subjects who did not drink milk. There are several other studies (study 1, study 2) which also support this correlation between milk and acne.

It’s also important to note that there are a number of other contributors that can lead to acne, including stress, poor hygiene and skin care, diet, exercise, genetics, hormones, pollutants, and environmental allergens.

To learn more about acne and today’s best acne treatments please visit our acne information page. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a board certified dermatologist for more help.


Julie Fridlington, MD

Dr. Fridlington is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, and Travis County Medical Society. She was selected as one of the “Texas Rising Stars” in Texas Monthly magazine in July 2013 in the category of Dermatology.

One Response to “Does Drinking Milk Cause Acne?”

  1. Avatar Jordan says:

    Thanks for sharing this. A lot of people are unaware of what sort of hormones and additives are in milk nowadays, and what they’re doing to our bodies. It’s important to research what you eat or drink before you put it in your mouth.

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