Can Low Iron Cause Acne?

Acne is a widespread skin condition that many people experience. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most frustrating because it can happen when you’re at your most confident and feel like you have nothing to be embarrassed about. 

Acne is caused by clogged pores in the skin, which are filled with oil and bacteria. The problem starts when these pores get clogged up with excess oil or dead cells due to hormonal changes or other factors. 

One factor that has been linked to acne flare-ups is low iron levels. Many people are not aware that their diet and supplementation can actually trigger acne breakouts. I explain how I cleared my acne completely by changing my nutrition in my guide, Unmasking Acne.

This article will explore if low iron causes acne, some symptoms of common iron deficiency, and how Iron supplementation could help alleviate your acne breakouts!

What is Iron Deficiency?

Iron is an essential mineral found in every living cell. Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce red blood cells or transport oxygen through your bloodstream. 

Symptoms of low iron levels include fatigue, dizziness, trouble breathing, and chest pain. What’s more, many people who suffer from low iron levels also experience acne. Because of this, many people wonder if low iron causes acne. 

Many people believe that adding more Iron into their diet could help alleviate some of the common issues associated with having both conditions together, like acne breakouts, but what does research show? 

Studies suggest that meeting your daily iron requirement can help improve your skin condition, so it’s always a good idea to pay attention to how much Iron you intake.

How Much Iron Do You Need?

The recommended dietary allowance of iron for men between 19 and 50 is about 11mg per day. Women in this group should consume around 15 mg/day. 

Men older than 51 years old need less – only about eight milligrams every day because as we get older, our bodies absorb less of the mineral from food sources. 

For women after menopause, that number drops down even more – only seven milligrams a day are needed once you’ve gone through menopause due to lower levels of blood loss during monthly periods.

Moreover, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your recommended intake of Iron also increases.

Why Does Low Iron Cause Acne?

There’s a theory that low iron can lead to an increase in acne breakouts because of its role in regulating your immune system. When you have sufficient levels of Iron, your body is better able to fight off toxins and bacteria, which could trigger acne-causing issues. 

Iron also helps produce collagen, which is essentially the glue holding our skin cells together,

This is the reason that many dermatologists recommend taking extra iron supplements [Amazon] if you are struggling with acne. However, it is essential to note there isn’t solid evidence linking low iron levels directly to acne outbreaks.

Iron’s Role in Collagen

Our bodies produce collagen as a result of Vitamin C, but iron also plays a role. When your iron levels are adequate, your body can produce collagen, which aids in the maintenance of healthy skin cells.

This keeps pores clear and unclogged, so they don’t become filled with oil or dead cells that could cause acne issues down the line! When these pores are clogged, it leads to whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. 

Collagen is also essential in maintaining the health of your hair, nails, and connective tissue, which is why it’s so vitally important to make sure your body has sufficient iron levels. So if you are low on iron, this might be one reason why you’re struggling with breakouts! 

Blood Circulation and Acne

Another reason low iron can cause acne is because of blood circulation. A lack of iron can cause a decrease in blood flow, which means the skin isn’t receiving as much oxygen and nutrients as it should be. The body will compensate by sending more new cells to the surface, but they become trapped beneath clogged pores, resulting in acne. 

This is especially true for those who suffer from hormonal acne, linked to low or fluctuating estrogen levels. For example, those who have heavy periods or take birth control pills might experience hormonal acne due to low iron. 

To add to this, low iron levels can also cause digestive issues, resulting in acne breakouts due to the body’s inability to absorb nutrients, as mentioned before. This can altogether cause a host of skin issues, including acne. 

While more research is needed to determine an iron-acne connection, some people have reported acne flares when increasing their dietary or supplemental iron levels. Because of this, make sure your doctors know your plan to increase your iron intake.

How Do You Know If You Have Low Iron?

It’s always a good idea to visit your doctor or dermatologist if you suspect that you might have low iron levels. They can perform blood tests to determine whether Iron deficiency is causing some of the acne problems in your life. 

If it turns out this is indeed an issue, they’ll work with you on developing an appropriate plan. To add to this, some of the most common symptoms are fatigue, dizziness, trouble breathing, and chest pain. 

If you experience any of these issues, it’s always good to visit your doctor or dermatologist! This can help to determine whether you have sufficient Iron levels and if supplementation is necessary. Always consult your doctor before starting an iron supplement.

Ways to increase your iron intake, including diet changes and supplements.

Include Iron Rich Foods in Your Diet: Some great ways to make sure you’re getting enough iron include eating more red meat (beef and lamb, specifically), dark chicken, or turkey. Additionally, leafy greens like kale and spinach can also help boost low iron levels. There are also several studies that show the plant ashwagandha is great for anemia because its high iron levels have been shown to increase hemoglobin production.

If you’re looking for a good starting place, check out our new book, Unmasking Acne – I cover how to solve acne through diet, go into detail about 8+ diet protocols, and more!

Other options include watermelon seeds, which may not be as tasty but will help boost your intake of this vital mineral! If you’re looking for an alternative source, consider adding a supplement.

This is especially helpful if you find that certain foods trigger acne breakouts – it might be the culprit! Check with your dermatologist first before starting any new supplements or diet changes. They can guide what might work best for your situation. 

Never start taking Iron supplements on your own without consulting with a doctor first. Not only can this lead to unpleasant side effects, but it could be dangerous if you have certain conditions like hemochromatosis, which causes the body to absorb too much of these essential nutrients!

Tips for Managing Acne With Low Iron Levels

If you suspect that low iron levels could be causing your acne problems, there are some steps you can take right now to help improve the situation.

Check with your doctor or dermatologist about any supplements you’re taking to ensure they don’t contain any ingredients that might interfere with your medications or pre-existing conditions.

Make sure your diet includes foods with moderate to high iron levels, such as those listed above.

Dealing With Triggers

If these seem like triggers, consider using a supplement such as Floradix liquid herbal Iron, which may reduce the chances of interfering with any medications you may already be on. 

Keep track of your menstrual cycle because this might have something to do with the acne issues. If so, getting treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) could help regulate cycles and minimize breakouts!  

If all else fails, visit a dermatologist who can provide more specific guidance on what steps to take next based on your medical history and current lifestyle factors. 

They’ll work hard to address the root cause(s) behind these problems to get long-lasting results!

Reddit Users Experience With Anemia & Acne

When doing research for this article I found that there were lots of people suffering from anemia that also frequently dealt with uncontrollable acne breakouts.

One Redditor said, “When I was very anaemic a few years ago my acne was a lot worse than usual but has since improved through change in diet and iron supplements. I hope you start to feel better soon!”



It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new treatments! They’ll be able to guide whether these options are safe for you and the potential side effects. It’s also beneficial to eat various foods that contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. 

This will keep you healthy inside out, plus provide long-lasting results through improved hair growth, glowing skin, solid nails & teeth!

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to clear skin from within, check out the Definitive Clear Skin Resource Kit, which includes a guide to clinically proven supplements, diet protocols, and more. It’s everything you need to get clear skin from within.

Frequently Asked Questions

What other deficiencies cause pimples?

Many other deficiencies cause pimples—for example, vitamin D and zinc. When the body lacks these nutrients, it can increase acne breakouts or make them worse! If you suspect your diet lacks specific vitamins or minerals, consider speaking to a doctor about getting tested for low levels. They can guide what supplements you might need to take and how much of these nutrients your body needs. Moreover, they can also guide whether or not you need to adjust your diet. For example, the doctor may recommend that you eat certain foods more often if they are lacking in your current meal plan!

What medications might be causing my breakout?

Some drugs like steroids (which dermatologists may prescribe) can lead to increased oil production, which clogs pores and causes pimples. This could also lead to adult acne – talk with your doctor if this sounds familiar because they’ll likely want you to switch over to something else ASAP! Keep in mind; it’s always best to talk with a doctor before making any changes or taking anything new – they’ll be able to provide options that are safe for you and the potential side effects. It’s always a good idea to check with them before starting any new treatments.

How does diet affect my complexion?

Your diet is an essential part of how you look (inside and outside), so it should be no surprise that what you eat has incredible power over your skin! For example, eating too little protein could result in fine lines and wrinkles because this nutrient helps maintain elasticity, while not getting enough zinc could lead to dark under-eye circles! Eating foods with antioxidants is also great because they help combat free radicals that can damage your skin, leading to wrinkles and age spots. 

How can I remove acne scars at home?

There are a few ways to help reduce acne scars at home. For example, you can purchase an exfoliating scrub and use it every other day before applying your usual moisturizer. This should gently remove dead skin cells, which will reveal new layers of healthy-looking skin! If this doesn’t work, consider adding in what’s called Micro-Dermabrasion. It involves using tiny crystals on the face to create micro-channels that allow for better penetration of products like serums – many dermatologists recommend doing this once or twice per month, depending on how often you break out.

Originally Published: October 29, 2021

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi, I’m Sam Wood, the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach at GoodGlow, as well as a best-selling author for one of the top acne books on Amazon. I struggled with acne for over 10 years, and began studying the effects of diet on skin quality while pursuing a degree in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Missouri. After shifting from mainstream skincare trends to in-depth research in medical journals, I experienced significant personal success in managing my acne. This inspired me to start GoodGlow, where I simplify complex scientific findings into easy-to-understand advice. With over 10 years in the field, I’ve helped more than 2,500 people achieve clearer skin through natural, holistic methods, and I’m dedicated to personally assisting those seeking guidance on their acne journey.

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