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Does Cheese Cause Acne? (Hint: It depends)

Acne is by far the most prevailing skin complication, affecting an average of 50 million Americans each year.

In recent times, people have been looking into diets and how they can play a role in acne. Cheese is a part of this research, and it unsurprisingly can cause acne, but not directly. 

Through analysis, we found cheese to cause acne primarily due to secondary factors, such as hormone fluctuations, lactose intolerance, and in some cases, genetics. In many cases, the amount of cheese does not always correlate with the amount of acne you will experience.

To better understand how cheese can cause acne, we’ve put together a 5 step breakdown, along with ways to enjoy cheese with a decreased risk of acne.

Does Cheese Cause Acne? – 5 Step Breakdown 

1: Dairy Products

The question that arises now is how dairy products can influence the production of acne. This question has a very simple answer. Dairy products are primarily made from cow’s milk. 

Cows produce milk to feed their calves. Calves’ growth and hormone levels are then stimulated by the hormones found in milk. 

Hormones in milk can sometimes interact with hormones in the body of a person who consumes it in any form, such as cheese. 

This interaction can disrupt the endocrine system and cause breakouts by confusing the physiology of one’s hormones. 

These proteins are digested and converted into insulin, which activates androgens. In turn, androgen hormones increase sebum production, resulting in more breakouts.

2: Looking at Limited Research 

Currently, there isn’t much research to back up the claim that cheese plays a significant role in developing acne in teenagers and adults. 

Even so, there have been various instances where people gave up dairy and cheese while improving their acne with a simple diet change. 

However, because everyone’s skin is different, it won’t benefit everyone who suffers from acne. 

However, some also believe that developing acne because of cheese is also linked with genetics. Furthermore, before limiting cheese consumption, seek medical advice.

3: Association of Cheese with Acne

A study was conducted out to determine the relationship linking cheese consumption and acne. 

The authors of that study reviewed four different types of studies conducted to determine the link between acne and cheese. 

By the end of those studies, it was concluded that there wasn’t a significant link between acne and cheese, regardless of the amount of cheese being consumed. 

It was determined that there is no solid evidence that cheese consumption directly influences acne production. 

There is anecdotal evidence that people who stopped eating dairy saw a significant improvement in their breakouts. 

This action may have helped some people, but it may not work for everyone.

4: Cutting Cheese From Your Diet

To protect one’s face from pimples or breakouts, one may consider eliminating dairy products or cheese from their diet entirely. 

Conversely, researchers believe that they cannot entirely blame cheese for the outbreaks. 

Many other factors can contribute to skin acne, and dairy is not inherently linked to acne production on the face or elsewhere in the body. 

However, if it causes acne or lactose intolerance, it may be wiser to reduce its intake from your diet. 

Even then, before discontinuing it all together, one should consult with their doctor. 

Note that products are also high in calcium and other vitamins such as A, B12, and D. To live a healthy life, these vitamins are required.

5: Treating Acne Caused by Cheese

If you genuinely believe that your cheese consumption causes your breakout, there is no reason to think that you will need to treat such breakouts with a completely different strategy. 

Fortunately, no special products are needed to treat this type of acne. All of the commonly used acne treatment agents on the market can be used. 

Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or hormonal therapy can be prescribed to treat facial acne

To control zits and redness, oral medications can be combined with topical ointments applied to the pimples. 

In addition, an active lifestyle and dietary changes, and increased water intake can be beneficial.

Enjoying Cheese without Getting Acne

Find Alternatives

If you are a huge cheese aficionado who can’t live without bingeing on cheese, perhaps taking a different route to your favorite destination would suit you best. 

Alternative cheese options are now available in supermarkets for this purpose. 

Low-fat cheese, vegan cheese, and diet cheese, for example, are available for those who want to enjoy cheese without consuming a large amount of dairy. 

Reasonable Use

Having too much of anything, good or bad, can be harmful to our health. 

The same theory has been applied here, as an excessive intake of dairy products can harm one’s health and cause problems such as skin acne, among other things. 

To avoid these problems, eat a small amount of your favorite cheese now and then without making it a component of your everyday routine.

OTC Treatments

Make using over-the-counter medications a daily habit. You will need to incorporate products containing salicylic acid alpha-hydroxy acids to accomplish this. 

These ingredients are beneficial and aid in unclogging the pores of the skin. 

Oil-based face products should be avoided because they increase the production of androgens, which activate the sebaceous glands, increasing the production of facial oil. 

Keeping your face clean and dry can allow your skin to breathe. So instead, use natural methods to pamper your skin. 

Because of its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, coconut is an excellent carrier for acne treatment. 

In short, making a few changes to the products you use daily can help you fight acne without eliminating dairy products.

Commonly Asked Questions

Is Cream Cheese Bad For Acne?

According to researchers, cheese has not yet been labeled as harmful or risky for people suffering from acne. 

However, studies have shown that dairy products, such as milk, or products derived from dairy resources, can influence or trigger breakouts. 

As a result, cream cheese can worsen already existing acne pimples. It can also directly impact acne production, depending on the affected person’s skin type and genetics.

It may cause a significant breakout in some people but may not make a significant difference in others.

Does Cottage Cheese Make Acne Worse?

Skin, like other organs, requires specific vitamins to stay healthy and glow. 

Different types of dietary vitamins are beneficial in this regard—these vitamins then carry out their intended actions and improve the appearance of the skin. 

Vitamin A is a necessary nutrient in this regard. In addition, cottage cheese is high in antioxidants, selenium, and vitamin E. 

They aid in the fight against free radicals and make the skin appear healthy. As a consequence, it may be helpful for acne as well.

Is Vegan Cheese Good For Acne?

Vegan cheeses are made from plant foods such as nuts, soy, seeds, and root vegetables. They are available in a variety of styles and flavors, such as dairy cheese. 

Acne may be linked to a high intake of animal protein, according to some research. 

However, there isn’t enough evidence-based research to choose vegan cheese over dairy cheese to treat or cure acne, but switching to vegan cheese options can help control it.

Is Goat Cheese Good For Acne?

According to scientific research, acne can be triggered by cheeses or dairy products made from cow’s milk. 

Consuming goat and sheep cheeses, on the other hand, is not a problem because they do not cause or aggravate acne. 

The human body produces a variety of androgenic hormones. As the process of sebum production increases, these hormones cause acne to form. 

Goat cheese is less insulinogenic and has a low leucine content, which reduces androgenic hormones and, as a result, acne.

Takeaway

According to researchers, some people’s acne worsens when they consume dairy products or cheese. For some people, however, this makes little difference. 

Everyone’s skin reacts differently, so generalizations are impossible. For example, acne is not directly linked to dairy products or cheese, but it can worsen an already bad situation in a few people. 

If having it is necessary, there are other forms available that are less triggering in cases of active acne. 

However, if the problem does not resolve, one should always seek medical advice and begin treatment and dietary and lifestyle changes.

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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

Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook! I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health. I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on. This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it. As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”. After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts. In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy. Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself. After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅 While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently. To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.


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