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

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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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