Why Does Eating Dairy Cause Cystic Acne?

Does dairy cause cystic acne and blemishes?

Updated 12/1/17. Your skin acts as an excretory system to get rid of substances that don’t agree with your body. For example, if someone is allergic to shellfish, they will break out in hives all over the body but it’s not like they rubbed shellfish topically over the skin. The hives is the symptom of your body trying to rid itself of this allergen.

In the case of eating dairy, it is mucous forming and can be difficult for the body digest—which is why many people are lactose intolerant. For certain people, when they get too much dairy for their body to digest, it may come out in the form of cystic acne (hard, painful bumps under the skin) on the chin and jaw line area.

Why the chin and jaw line area? The hypothesis is that since the majority of milk in the U.S. comes from pregnant cows (and some cows are given growth hormones), the hormone levels in milk may play a role in excess sebum production, which promotes acne. Sebum production is influenced by androgens and hormonal mediators, such as insulin-like growth factors found in milk and other animal products. The consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt may become factors that influence endogenous hormones and mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin to ignite the acne process.

The body may use the chin and jawline area to remove these excess hormones. There are a greater number of sebaceous glands in the face and since hormones are fat soluble, the body will use these glands as an avenue of excretion for fat-based hormones. Read theses 8 tips for preventing chin and jawline breakouts.

For cystic acne, you really only have four options available…

1. Get a cortisone shot injected into the cyst by a dermatologist. It definitely works, but you run the risk of a possible skin indentation. Read more about cortisone injections.

2. Start taking oral medications such as antibiotics or what is formerly known as Accutane. I personally believe that medication should be the last resort. After all, for some, it can act as a band-aid in that it can temporarily help, but when you go off of it, it may come right back. It’s always best to see if you can find out the underlying cause. Here’s 11 common causes of blemishes.

3. Dab on Anti Cyst Treatment immediately when the cyst forms. This can dramatically flatten the visible appearance of the bump by about 50% more quickly than when using nothing at all. It has been truly a miraculous product for thousands of our customers since I developed it it 20 years ago.

4. Try cutting out your dairy completely for two weeks and and see if that improves the condition. In my 30 years of being a esthetician and skin care expert and working with clients hands-on, I have literally “cured” many of my clients cystic acne condition simply by suggesting they reduce or cut out their dairy intake. I recommend cutting it out for at least three weeks to see if dairy may be the underlying cause.

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  1. Avatar

    I completely agree! I have been getting cystic acne since I was 13 (23 now), and I had tried everything. I eliminated absolutely all dairy and soya from my diet and not only have I lost weight, but for the first time I can leave my house without foundation, because my skin is all clear.

    Posted By: Nadia  | 

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    If you have a dairy allergy can you still use the anti cyst treatment since it contains lactic acid?

    Posted By: Jenny Hullander  | 

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    Dear Renee,

    I have PCOS, and because of this I have severe acne around my jaws and chin, and hairline, most of which is cystic by nature. I have tried everything, and nothing seemed to work. So I turned to Accutane. I did see a lot of relief, but, I think I got scared of the side effects (mainly, depression), and so I discontinued it aftera month. Now, my cystic acne have come back with more force, and I just cant deal with any more… I dont know what to do. I am 31, and cant deal with this! Please Please help.

    Posted By: Mary  | 

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      Hi Mary, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with acne. It can be so frustrating. Did you try cutting back on your dairy to see if this helps as I mentioned in this post? Also have you purchased my Anti Cyst Treatment yet to try. Those would be my two suggestions.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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    I all of a sudden started getting cyst like acne on my jaw line! This lasted for two years until my dad read an article about lactose in milk causing acne. So I cut out all lactose, (only buying lactose free milk, ice cream, etc) and my jaw line cleared up almost immediately! I tested my theory by having real milk or cream and sure enough I would break out. So Im not sure if it would be the same for everyone but maybe before you cut out all dairy products, try lactose free dairy instead!

    Posted By: Melissa  | 

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    Hi Renée!

    Thank you for this enlightening post. I’ve cut out dairy from my diet on and off my entire life, but consistently for the past 3 years with the exception of occasional butter, chocolate, and traces of dairy in some food. Recently I switched from a calcium supplement that was vegan to one that I am not sure of the origins (Quest brand). I have struggled with hormone imbalance as well since I went off birth control a few years ago, and since being back on it, have been much more balanced. I am 24, and recently noticed that my acne has been worse again, primarily along my jaw line (slightly above and slight below) and around my chin. They are painful and quite unsightly. Could what I’m describing be a result of dairy or other intolerance somewhere in my diet?

    I greatly appreciate your time and insight!

    Posted By: Brittin  | 

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      It’s so hard to say why one gets breakouts around the chin but it sounds to me as it is more hormonal, especially if you’re not getting much dairy in your diet. The chin area can certainly be hormonal. You might want to get your hormones checked and see what is going on there. In the meantime, get our Anti Cyst Treatment as that will help treat those, and prevent new ones to when used a few times a week in areas prone to breakouts. Hope this helps! -Renee

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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    Hi, I’m a 27 year old female who began experiencing cystic acne upon turning 20. It would usually appear around my period and linger for months at a time. Birth Control helped… but it wasn’t practical to stay on it forever. I stumbled across this site and ordered the product immediately. I have noticed a drastic decrease in the cystic acne and though at present i have a huge one on my cheek, i believe its because i cheated this month and consumed way too much dairy. I’m about to order my 2nd bottle… the first one lasted really long as well.

    Posted By: Tamara  | 

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      I’m so glad to hear that the Anti Cyst Treatment is working so well for you, Tamara!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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    I am a mature woman in my 60s and have suffered with cystic acne most of my life. I am we’ll past menopause with full surgical hysterectomy. The cysts occur on my check and chin. The ones on my chin seem to be associated with white course chin hairs which lie under the skin and grow sideways. Hard to remove the chin hairs and suggestions.? Thank you.

    Posted By: Dara  | 

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      Hello Dara,
      Your best bet for dealing with what is ingrown hairs on your chin is not to tweeze or pull the hair out, but rather TRIM the hair. I’m making an assumption that you tweeze them out when they come to the surface. This will help reduce the cysts you get. Read more about it here. https://blog.reneerouleau.com/2009/11/is-that-a-blemish-on-your-chin-an-ingrown-hair/ But the Anti-Cyst Treatment is your best bet to heal those once they occur. Hope this helps. -Renee

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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    Hi! I have cut out dairy due to cystic acne and it has stopped 100%! My question is regarding Kefir. Do you think dairy Kefir that is lactose free is ok? I cant do yogurt because of the acne but I want the probiotics. Kefir is full of probiotics and lactose free. I know the hormones and sugar are what contribute to the cystic acne. Any thoughts on if Kefir will cause the cystic acne? Its supposed to be so good for you! Thanks!

    Posted By: Rhonda  | 

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      Hi Rhonda, I’m so glad to hear that your cystic acne has cleared up, that is great news! As for Kefir, it’s hard to say. I suggest that you introduce it to your system very, very slowly and just see how it goes.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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    Should I store anit-cyst treatment in the fridge to make the potency last?

    Posted By: Lynne  | 

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      No, it’s not necessary to store in the fridge at all.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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  10. Avatar

    I wasn’t drinking milk for a week or two and I didn’t get any cystic acne at all. I was drinking Oat milk to get my calcium though. However, I didn’t know how much avoiding dairy was helping my skin until recently when I’ve been drinking milk again, two cystic spots on my chin 🙁
    Okay, I can definitely go without milk.

    Posted By: Rachel  | 

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