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Spicy Food and Acne

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4 min read


Spicy food may be one of the causes of acne and is a topic of debate. Read the article to know about it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav

Published At May 5, 2023
Reviewed AtAugust 17, 2023


Acne is a very common problem affecting people across the globe. It can appear on facial areas, neck and back areas. Various entities are responsible for the formation of acne, including genetics, hormones, and diet. In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the role of spicy food in causing or exacerbating acne. Few studies show that spicy foods may indeed play a role in acne formation. This article will explore the relationship between spicy food and acne and examine the scientific evidence supporting this link.

What Is the Definition of Acne?

Acne is a common problem in which there are pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the face, neck, chest, and back. When the follicles of hair get clogged with oil, it leads to the forming of various types of lesions on the skin. Acne may be mild or severe and also cause physical and emotional discomfort, including pain, scarring, and reduced self-esteem. It is most commonly associated with adolescence, but it can occur at any age.

What Are the Reasons for Acne to Develop?

It can occur due to various reasons such as genetics, hormones, and lifestyle choices. Here are some common reasons for acne development:

  • Genetics: Hereditary of acne may elevate the chances to develop the condition.

  • Hormones: Changes occurring due to hormonal variations in periods of puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can cause acne by increasing the production of sebum (oil) in the skin.

  • Bacteria: There is a type of acne called Propionibacterium acne which is present on the skin. This may also lead to the formation of acne.

  • Clogged Pores: When hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, it can lead to the formation of acne lesions.

  • Diet: Some studies suggest that a diet high in dairy products and refined carbohydrates may contribute to the development of acne.

  • Stress: Stress can cause hormonal changes that increase sebum production and lead to the development of acne.

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids and hormonal contraceptives, can cause acne as a side effect.

  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to pollutants and certain chemicals can contribute to the development of acne.

It is important to note that the exact cause of acne can vary from person to person and may involve a combination of these factors.

How Spicy Food Can Cause Acne?

Spicy food and acne may be a topic of controversy, and the evidence supporting the idea that spicy food causes acne is limited. However, there are some potential mechanisms by which spicy foods could contribute to acne formation. Here are some possible reasons why spicy food may cause acne:

  • Inflammation: Spicy foods contain capsaicin, a compound that can cause irritation and inflammation in the body. Inflammation can trigger the production of sebum.

  • Increased Blood Flow: Spicy foods can increase blood flow to the skin, leading to redness and flushing. This increased blood flow may also contribute to the formation of acne lesions.

  • Digestive Issues: Some people may experience digestive issues, such as acid reflux or heartburn, after consuming spicy food. These digestive issues could potentially lead to inflammation in the body, which can contribute to acne formation.

  • Hormonal Changes: Spicy foods can affect the hormonal balance in the body. Capsaicin has been shown to increase the levels of stress hormones. This may trigger sebum production and contribute to acne formation.

  • Allergies: Some people may have an allergic reaction to spicy foods, which can lead to inflammation and contribute to the formation of acne lesions.

One must understand that the mechanisms are speculative, and extensive studies are essential to know whether spicy food plays a significant role in acne development. Additionally, individual factors such as genetics, hormones, and lifestyle choices play a more significant role in acne development than any single food or ingredient.

Spicy Food Can Cause Acne. Is It Truth or Myth?

While some studies suggest that spicy foods may contribute to acne formation, others have found no association between the two. Therefore, it is difficult to make a conclusive statement on whether spicy food causes acne.

Other studies suggest that there is no relation found between spicy food and acne. For example, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found no correlation between spicy food consumption and acne development.

How to Enjoy Eating Spicy Food Without Getting Acne?

Here are some points on how to enjoy eating spicy food without getting acne:

  • Maintain good skin hygiene by washing the face regularly with a gentle cleanser.

  • Hydration is must which will flush toxins out of the body, which reduces inflammation and the risk of acne formation.

  • Balanced diet is the key. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy skin.

  • Choose milder spices or use them in moderation to avoid skin irritation.

  • Monitor the skin's reaction to spicy food, and reduce intake if acne symptoms increase.

  • Talk to a dermatologist for topical treatments to reduce symptoms if acne develops.

What Is the Treatment of Acne Caused Because of Spicy Food?

The treatment of acne caused by spicy food is similar to the treatment of acne caused by other factors. The treatment aims to reduce inflammation, unclog pores, and prevent the formation of new acne lesions. Here are some common treatments for acne:

  • Topical Treatments: Over-the-counter topical treatments that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids can help unclog pores and reduce inflammation. Prescription topical treatments, such as topical antibiotics or topical retinoids, may also be recommended by a dermatologist for more severe acne.

  • Oral Medications: In some cases, oral medications, such as antibiotics or hormonal treatments, may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation and prevent the formation of new acne lesions.

  • Chemical Peels: Chemical peels, which involve the application of a chemical solution to the skin.

  • Laser and Light Therapies: Laser and light therapies can help reduce inflammation and the appearance of acne scars.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Making changes to one's lifestyle, such as reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and avoiding certain foods, including spicy food, can also help reduce acne symptoms.

The treatment protocol for acne caused by spicy food is not significantly different from the treatment of acne caused by other factors. The treatment recommended by a dermatologist will depend on the severity of the acne and taking it into consideration.


In conclusion, the link between spicy food and acne is still a matter of debate among medical professionals. While some studies suggest that consuming spicy food may lead to acne breakouts due to the inflammation it causes in the body, others have found no significant correlation between the two. It is worth noting that acne is a complex condition influenced by various factors, including genetics, hormones, and lifestyle choices.

While some individuals may experience acne flare-ups after consuming spicy foods, it is important to note that everyone's body reacts differently, and there may be other underlying factors at play. Hence, it is essential to meet a dermatologist to determine the root cause of acne and the most effective treatment options.

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Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav
Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav



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