Does Spicy Food Cause Acne? (Hint: It’s Not The Only Reason…)

No, spicy food does not directly cause acne but for some people, spicy foods cause effects that can trigger acne through inflammation and other side effects.

Just about everyone experiences acne at some point in their lifetime, often spending hundreds of dollars on supplements to find a suitable treatment

What numerous people do not recognize, however, is that it may be the food you’re eating or simply what you put on the food, including spices. 

Many spices, such as peppers, have an ingredient named capsaicin, which supplies hot peppers with their heat. 

This same compound can cause our inflammatory response to go haywire, raising the inflammatory hormone prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), among countless others. 

This can directly cause acne, but it’s not the only reason spicy food can cause this unpleasant skin condition. Let’s look at five reasons spicy foods cause acne and how to combat it.

5 Reasons Why Spicy Foods Causes Acne 

1: Upset GI Tract 

Spicy foods are sometimes the enemy of a healthy digestive tract.  We enjoy trying new things, but that doesn’t mean our stomach is ready for them all. 

Avoid spicy foods at all costs if you have a sensitive stomach. If you frequently experience flatulence and diarrhea after eating spicy foods, you may be unable to tolerate them. 

Problems with the digestive system will manifest themselves throughout the entire body, including the skin and face. Your skin will become rough and double-toned. 

Skin breakouts and acne may occur in severe cases. You can’t expect to have good skin if your gut isn’t in good shape. 

To properly nourish your skin, you must first improve your digestive system. 

Furthermore, an unhealthy GI tract can result in minor malnutrition or even poor absorption of certain nutrients that help in the preservation of clear, healthy skin. 

If you suspect that you have poor bowel health, try probiotics or an elimination diet to see if you’re gluten intolerant, for example.

I cover the link between diet and acne and more within my new book, Unmasking Acne – The book provides dietary and supplement strategies that you can use to get permanently clear skin from within.

2: Acidic Lycopene 

Spicy food contains acidic lycopene, which can disturb the PH of your skin, causing breakouts and making you even more acne-prone. 

Everyone’s skin is different; while some people may not experience bad skin after eating spicy foods, others may experience a full-fledged breakout. 

The acidic component of the food raises your body temperature as well. This will make you sweat. Sweating on the skin increases the likelihood of breakouts. 

Aside from sweat, you’ll notice more oil on your face. Impurities will be trapped by this oil. As a result, you get acne on your face. 

Some people aren’t as affected as others, so checking your acne the day after eating spicy foods is a good way to see if this is the cause. 

If the condition worsens, spicy foods could be to blame. The “hotter” the spice, the more of these acids it has, resulting in more acne.

3: Oily Skin

Eating spicy food activates the sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are the sebum-producing glands underneath our skin. 

They usually produce sebum/oil to keep your skin moisturized. Overactivity of these glands, on the other hand, causes an overproduction of oil on your face. 

This results in clogged pores. These clogged pores make the skin dirty and provide a breeding ground for bacteria. You will eventually have a face full of acne and acne marks

As a result of this, we conclude that spicy food at times causes acne by activating the sebaceous glands, causing them to produce unnecessary oils. 

If you properly care for your skin and wash away excess oil, you can keep pimples and breakouts at bay.

4: Skin Inflammation 

Spices are a major source of inflammation in our bodies, particularly in the stomach. If you continue to eat spicy foods, your stomach could become upset. 

Long-term stomach problems cause gut inflammation. This inflammation can sometimes be seen on your skin. You may experience flushing, acne breakouts, or eczema

It begins with a simple intake of spicy food, which becomes a habit. 

Then it begins to disrupt your stomach health, causing acid reflux and other symptoms, as well as inflammation and acne on your face. 

Acne is more likely to appear on an inflamed face. Acne will worsen if you already have it.

5: Blood Toxicity 

Our kidneys constantly filter everything we eat throughout the day. Toxins are removed from our bodies by the kidney and excreted. 

The essential nutrients are transported to our circulatory system and delivered to various parts of the body via blood. 

Spices and acidic components of our food can be absorbed into our bloodstream. Those harmful components are delivered to any part of the body where the blood circulates. 

To stay healthy, our skin requires constant nourishment. Imagine eating acids instead of minerals and vitamins. It has a negative impact on the skin.

And if the problems are not resolved in a timely manner, you will develop more acne on your face. You will have more chances of getting acne again and again. 

3 Ways To Enjoy Spicy Foods without Experiencing Acne

1: Drink More Water 

This tip is essential for those who can’t live without a little spice in their lives. Yes, spice is delicious, but if you enjoy spices in your food, we need a solution for better skin. 

Spices in food always shift our stomach’s pH toward the acidic side. Consequently, there are more skin breakouts and acne. You can try to counteract the acidity by drinking more water.

Water is the best drink to drink if you want clearer skin. It’s recommended that an adult drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. 

So, if you’re going to eat spicy food, increase your water intake to 12 to 13 glasses. This way, you will be able to enjoy spicy foods while reducing your chances of developing acne.

2: Take Care of Your Skin 

Even if you don’t eat spicy foods, taking care of your skin is vital. Create a bulletproof skincare routine and stick to it every day. 

Wake up in the morning and wash your face with an oil-control face wash. To achieve an even skin tone, use a toner. Rosewater is a fantastic natural toner. 

Apply a light moisturizer to your face if you have oily skin. Cleanse your face twice or three times per day. After 3 to 5 days, you can use a scrub to remove dead skin. 

Maintaining a great skincare routine will allow you to enjoy healthy skin in addition to your favorite foods. However, don’t expect miracles overnight. Persistence is key.

3: Eat Fruits 

Eating fruits is a healthy option. If you are eating spicy foods that may be harmful to your skin, try to balance it out with a healthy food choice. 

You can benefit from fruits in two ways. First, the minerals in fruit are beneficial to your bloodstream and counteract toxins from your body. 

Another way fruits can help you is by making your skin glow. Fruits are high in vitamins, which are essential for the growth of your skin. 

They also keep your skin hydrated, which helps you meet your water requirements. This magical trick allows you to eat spicy foods while keeping a beautiful acne-free complexion.


Spicy foods can harm your skin in a variety of ways. It raises the body temperature, causing more oil to be produced on the skin. Spicy foods also cause inflammation in the body.

In addition,  the stomach can be damaged as a result of the acids in the food. If our digestive tract isn’t in good shape, our bodies won’t be able to properly nourish our skin.

If you’ve heard all of the negative effects of spicy food and you can’t stop eating it; instead, try to incorporate more healthy options into your diet.

You should drink more water, eat more fruits, and take care of your skin. This will help you in remaining acne-free for years to come so that you can have a glowing face wherever you go!

Now cutting out spicy foods won’t be the only solution. Acne takes a lot of little changes that add up.

If you’re really looking for that extra edge against acne or would prefer to treat it at the source, check out my new book, Unmasking Acne, which aims to solve acne through diet!

Originally Published: July 19, 2021

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.

Get The Definitive Guide To Permanently Clear Skin

Everything you need to beat acne at the source. 250-Page eBook, Clear Skin Food + Drink Database, and Members-Only Content

Get The Kit

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.

Leave a Comment