8

votes

Why, exactly, does dairy cause acne?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 31, 2011 at 7:18 AM

Hullo! :)

I'm a desperate woman. I miss yoghurt something fierce (and yes, I know it's not Paleo, but this is a recurrent craving that I'm having trouble ignoring as it has been nagging me for literally years), and I would love to figure out why I can't eat dairy. Whenever I do, I break out in epic, ginormous cysts. Other than the occasional taste (a lick of sour cream off my fingers, or a tiny bit of milk in some chocolate, but never more than that), I haven't had dairy in years. I attempted to eat a bite of organic cow's milk cheese the other day, and paid for it in stomach cramps and digestive upset. (It's too soon for me to tell if it will break me out, though, as the cysts arrive about 7-10 days after dairy consumption.)

My research has come up with two hypotheses:

1) Dairy causes a hormonal response, which triggers acne flare-ups.

2) Food intolerance (lactose/casein) triggers an inflammatory response, thus acne occurs.

I purchased myself some full-fat goat's milk yoghurt (Sierra Nevada brand, which claims to be a sustainable, small farm that does not use antibiotics or synthetic hormones in their production) tonight at my local health food store and enjoyed a tiny bowl of it for dessert this evening. It's my understanding that goat's milk has less of the Alpha-type of casein found in cow's milk that triggers a reaction, and is more easily digested than cow's milk.

When I searched this forum, I found many people noting link between dairy and acne, but I couldn't find any suggestions as to /why/ it happens. If it's the casein, perhaps I can enjoy dairy again? If it's hormonal, am I completely out of luck? I was also wondering if, perhaps, any of you who do react to dairy has fared better on goat/sheep/other-lactating-mammal dairy?

Thank you! :)

2c28ab74bf5b172998983e3ac5034af0

(0)

on January 01, 2014
at 05:23 AM

wow, i think i will! i've had enough of the itching and horrible cystic acne!

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on March 14, 2012
at 08:28 AM

It is not accurate to claim that "butter has no protein"; unless it is well clarified, it will contain traces of milk solids which are very easy to see if you melt the butter at low temperature in a pot. It's those proteins that will brown if you heat the butter to high temperature. A person with a milk allergy will usually react to all dairy products, including ricotta and butter.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on December 24, 2011
at 05:01 AM

Hi, Kate. As far as I know, goat's dairy and I get along just fine. No cysts from it. I agree, they take forever to heal, too. Good luck! I hope you find goat's milk/cheese agrees with you, too! :)

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:15 PM

Who cares if estrogen is low during lactogensis. We have the study and the scientist say otherwise, do you have conflicting info? Maybe I misunderstood peat and its actually the opposite of what I stated which does make sense, either way vitamin A sees to work for me.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on July 10, 2011
at 03:33 PM

And fwiw, estrogen is very low during lactogenesis - in both cows and humans.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on July 10, 2011
at 03:32 PM

Uh, ray peat is wrong about vitamin A. That's one of the many purposes of oral and topical retinoids - to increase cell turnover in the skin.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 06:33 PM

A consistent amount of Vit A in your system is good no matter what, if you're not eating 1lb of liver a week I'd supp 10,000IU daily.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on July 02, 2011
at 06:19 PM

That makes sense! I wonder if I can offset those (very rare) instances that I do partake with some Vitamin A, or if I need to have a consistent amount of Vit A in my system? Thank you for the link and information! :)

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 02, 2011
at 03:35 PM

Unfortunately, my experience with heavy cream is that it does not make good yogurt. But it's worth a try...!

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on March 17, 2011
at 10:38 PM

I'm not entirely 100% sure, more like 90% +/-, but I'm fairly confident that the goat's milk does not break me out. (I've had a couple spots, but no cysts, and had some other confounding factors during the experiment.) If I eat it in the morning, I get slight digestive issues, but other than that, I'm reasonably clear-complected and have noticed no bloating or IBS from the goat's yoghurt. :)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 04, 2011
at 05:10 PM

I'll definitely keep you in the loop. It's too soon to tell if it's going to break me out yet, though. I'll know sometime next week-ish. :)

82a8b7c6e7f67787c2b16bd595db510e

(253)

on February 04, 2011
at 02:27 PM

Please let us know how your goat milk experiment goes! I have the same issue -- even grassfed cow milk flares up my skin, but I miss my cappuccinos something fierce. It's not even worth cheating with cow milk, though. I haven't tried goat milk or raw milk.

8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on February 02, 2011
at 05:36 PM

I don't know. It may have something to do with the dairy fat instead, or just some other component of dairy. IGF-1 is just something I thought of.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:31 PM

Oh, and I haven't made my own yoghurt before -- does the longer it ferment make it easier for my body to digest? I guess I ought to look further into shipping raw milk my way. Thank you!

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:28 PM

is pretty rubbish, but has improved considerably on Paleo. I don't want to get too graphic, but about 90% of the pain is gone in my tummy, compared to daily, chronic pain that it used to be. I appreciate your help! I agree; it's not worth the pain of cysts for the occasional joy of yoghurt. I think the reason I want it so much is because it's been so verboten these past few years, and I've put the dang stuff on a pedestal. x)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:26 PM

You give me much to think about, Andrew. I have tried organic, but I'm not sure it was 100% grassfed. It still broke me out. I'm not sure how to tell if my dairy is A1 or A2? Is it specific to the type of ruminant from which it came? I haven't tried raw milk yet, but I hope to! I've been looking at websites that ship to my area. I've been GF since June, with a couple of failed attempts to reintroduce it. I do feel like I am still healing from serious inflammation; this past summer was awful, and I have several factors in my past that may have contributed to it. My digestion (con't)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:22 PM

Thanks for your reply, Stancel. :) However, both butter and ricotta breaks me out, too. Hrm. (I only know this about the ricotta because it was something I introduced independently of other dairy a few years back as a source of protein during my veggie years. Then again, I was also eating gluten then, too.) So you think it might be an intolerance to the casein, then? Honestly, at this point, I want a /name/ for what causes the outbreaks, y'know? So I can look at it and go, "I'm casein intolerant," rather than be unsure as to the reasoning behind the flareups.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:25 PM

I haven't tried ghee yet, but it's next on my list of experimental foods. I know regular butter makes me sick, but I've read that clarifying it removes the proteins that cause the upset? :)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I have not tried heavy cream! At least, not lately. Before I was GF, I was able to eat a bit of heavy cream here and there (I love whipped cream, more than any dessert in the entire world), but since eliminating gluten and reacting more strongly to dairy since, I've been too timid to try it. It's definitely worth looking into. Oooh, I wonder if I can ferment it and make a heavy cream-gurt? =o

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:22 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, Melissa. :) I've tried it and I do enjoy it, but the stabilizers in it are murder on my tummy. Plus, I miss the sour tartness of real yoghurt. However, if this goat's milk stuff is a miss, then I'll most likely gravitate back to it. :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 31, 2011
at 08:40 PM

So Delicious has "cultured coconut milk" that is yogurt like. It has additives that are not very Paleo, but it is definitely NON-DAIRY and like yogurt. http://www.turtlemountain.com/products/Coconut_Milk_Yogurt_Reviews.html

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 31, 2011
at 08:16 PM

I have a milk allergy and clarified butter doesn't cause any problems for me. I think the issue would be the extent to which you clarify it.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 05:14 PM

No, I haven't, but I definitely want to! I read that raw might be less inflammatory, but alas, it's illegal to buy where I live. I know there's a website that ships up here, though...I'll definitely consider it. :) Thanks, Mari!

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 05:13 PM

Thanks for the link! I'll have to take a look at it to see what it says. :)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 05:13 PM

Thanks for the reply, Josh. I currently use almond/coconut milk, too. There's just something about the creamy tang of yoghurt that I miss, though, y'know? :)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 05:11 PM

Thanks for your reply. It makes me feel hopeful that I might be able to enjoy the occasional dairy treat here and there. I bought a 24 oz tub of goat's milk yoghurt, so I'll definitely give it a go and see where it takes me. :)

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on January 31, 2011
at 03:29 PM

Have you tried raw?

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:15 AM

*whether your acne flares back up (typo)

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12 Answers

best answer

3
2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:14 AM

From what I understand it's not the lactose in all cases that can be problematic but a protein found in dairy called Casein which can cause an inflammatory (auto immune) response. I know for me and many other goats dairy can be so much less problematic, and I do enjoy a nice cup of tea so goats milk in that is my saving grace :D perhaps because it is pastuered? So try go without for 30 days and then re-introduce back in some goats dairy, yoghurt or whatever and see how it makes you feel, or whether yourance flares back up, with alot of these things I think trial and error plays a huge part.

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:15 AM

*whether your acne flares back up (typo)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 05:11 PM

Thanks for your reply. It makes me feel hopeful that I might be able to enjoy the occasional dairy treat here and there. I bought a 24 oz tub of goat's milk yoghurt, so I'll definitely give it a go and see where it takes me. :)

4
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 03:11 PM

It raises your metabolism and raises your need for vitamin A, b6 and zinc. Supplementing vit A usually fixes the acne

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on July 02, 2011
at 06:19 PM

That makes sense! I wonder if I can offset those (very rare) instances that I do partake with some Vitamin A, or if I need to have a consistent amount of Vit A in my system? Thank you for the link and information! :)

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 06:33 PM

A consistent amount of Vit A in your system is good no matter what, if you're not eating 1lb of liver a week I'd supp 10,000IU daily.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on July 10, 2011
at 03:33 PM

And fwiw, estrogen is very low during lactogenesis - in both cows and humans.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:15 PM

Who cares if estrogen is low during lactogensis. We have the study and the scientist say otherwise, do you have conflicting info? Maybe I misunderstood peat and its actually the opposite of what I stated which does make sense, either way vitamin A sees to work for me.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on July 10, 2011
at 03:32 PM

Uh, ray peat is wrong about vitamin A. That's one of the many purposes of oral and topical retinoids - to increase cell turnover in the skin.

4
8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on February 01, 2011
at 05:22 PM

possibly IGF-1

"In rat experiments the amount of IGF-1 mRNA in the liver was positively associated with dietary casein and negatively associated with a protein free diet" (Wiki)

Casein is the main protein in dairy, except ricotta, which is mostly whey, and butter, which has no protein.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:22 PM

Thanks for your reply, Stancel. :) However, both butter and ricotta breaks me out, too. Hrm. (I only know this about the ricotta because it was something I introduced independently of other dairy a few years back as a source of protein during my veggie years. Then again, I was also eating gluten then, too.) So you think it might be an intolerance to the casein, then? Honestly, at this point, I want a /name/ for what causes the outbreaks, y'know? So I can look at it and go, "I'm casein intolerant," rather than be unsure as to the reasoning behind the flareups.

8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on February 02, 2011
at 05:36 PM

I don't know. It may have something to do with the dairy fat instead, or just some other component of dairy. IGF-1 is just something I thought of.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on March 14, 2012
at 08:28 AM

It is not accurate to claim that "butter has no protein"; unless it is well clarified, it will contain traces of milk solids which are very easy to see if you melt the butter at low temperature in a pot. It's those proteins that will brown if you heat the butter to high temperature. A person with a milk allergy will usually react to all dairy products, including ricotta and butter.

2
D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on February 01, 2011
at 04:32 PM

There's lots of room to try to tweak dairy consumption. Have you tried grassfed dairy? Have you made sure your dairy is A1 and not A2? Have you tried yogurt fermented for twenty four hours? I can do cheese but not store bought yogurt. If I make my own I can handle it. Raw milk is a gift from God. An expensive expensive gift. Also, how s your digestion in general? How long have you been off wheat? I know this isn't mechanistic. The short of it is that it's inflammatory to some of us. This is especially noticeable to those of us who are healing from a state of chronic inflammation. I'll try to hunt down a pathway for you. I don't think I'll be lucky. If it's giving you cysts, I'd just wave goodbye, personally.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:31 PM

Oh, and I haven't made my own yoghurt before -- does the longer it ferment make it easier for my body to digest? I guess I ought to look further into shipping raw milk my way. Thank you!

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:28 PM

is pretty rubbish, but has improved considerably on Paleo. I don't want to get too graphic, but about 90% of the pain is gone in my tummy, compared to daily, chronic pain that it used to be. I appreciate your help! I agree; it's not worth the pain of cysts for the occasional joy of yoghurt. I think the reason I want it so much is because it's been so verboten these past few years, and I've put the dang stuff on a pedestal. x)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on February 01, 2011
at 09:26 PM

You give me much to think about, Andrew. I have tried organic, but I'm not sure it was 100% grassfed. It still broke me out. I'm not sure how to tell if my dairy is A1 or A2? Is it specific to the type of ruminant from which it came? I haven't tried raw milk yet, but I hope to! I've been looking at websites that ship to my area. I've been GF since June, with a couple of failed attempts to reintroduce it. I do feel like I am still healing from serious inflammation; this past summer was awful, and I have several factors in my past that may have contributed to it. My digestion (con't)

2
39a1a0bc7855c084ac59df60fdf9c0dd

(1505)

on January 31, 2011
at 08:33 PM

Have you tried heavy cream? Any dairy that has casein causes me problems, but heavy cream is great - and delicious! If I'm running late and don't have time for breakfast, I just pour myself 1/4 cup (I always measure it because it is, after all, loaded with calories) and drink it straight. Makes a great snack before heading to the gym, too.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I have not tried heavy cream! At least, not lately. Before I was GF, I was able to eat a bit of heavy cream here and there (I love whipped cream, more than any dessert in the entire world), but since eliminating gluten and reacting more strongly to dairy since, I've been too timid to try it. It's definitely worth looking into. Oooh, I wonder if I can ferment it and make a heavy cream-gurt? =o

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 02, 2011
at 03:35 PM

Unfortunately, my experience with heavy cream is that it does not make good yogurt. But it's worth a try...!

1
Cdb9e467dac06a12c515ddfd18a4cdda

(140)

on December 24, 2011
at 08:13 AM

Either because of the IGF1 due to amino acid composition, Iodine, or AGEs (if there are any)

1
Fe99020a0c26ccfe7086f033ec553669

on December 24, 2011
at 12:28 AM

Hi, I realize this column was done nearly a year ago, but!.. I am wondering how your body reacted to the goat's milk? I, too, develop cystic acne when consuming cow's milk, so I avoid all types of dairy products. I am also free of gluten, soy, and questioning whether cane sugar should be. I drink almond milk also, but I would love a chance to enjoy actual cheese, yogurt, etc. Did you break out with the goat's milk? I also found it interesting that you said you begin to break out 7-10 days after consuming dairy. I haven't kept track of days, but I do know it takes too long of a time for them to heal. Please reply back! Thank you! :)

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on December 24, 2011
at 05:01 AM

Hi, Kate. As far as I know, goat's dairy and I get along just fine. No cysts from it. I agree, they take forever to heal, too. Good luck! I hope you find goat's milk/cheese agrees with you, too! :)

1
35a8b223ae5d863f17a8c9e3a8eed5eb

(571)

on January 31, 2011
at 08:07 PM

2 questions:

  • would Ghee (clarified butter) be a problem for acne prone skin?
  • is clarified Butter allowed on an auto immune diet plan?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 31, 2011
at 08:16 PM

I have a milk allergy and clarified butter doesn't cause any problems for me. I think the issue would be the extent to which you clarify it.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:25 PM

I haven't tried ghee yet, but it's next on my list of experimental foods. I know regular butter makes me sick, but I've read that clarifying it removes the proteins that cause the upset? :)

1
730b4d4c50506a31777e90b36c5999da

(235)

on January 31, 2011
at 11:11 AM

My friend has the exact problem. She will break out if she has cow milk. I'm talking like a spoon full or two of yogurt and it's on. She just uses almond milk or coconut milk instead. Doesn't upset her stomach, and doesn't cause acne.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 05:13 PM

Thanks for the reply, Josh. I currently use almond/coconut milk, too. There's just something about the creamy tang of yoghurt that I miss, though, y'know? :)

1
0ee98c251b5eef357445aefec99c5d7b

(888)

on January 31, 2011
at 08:32 AM

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on January 31, 2011
at 05:13 PM

Thanks for the link! I'll have to take a look at it to see what it says. :)

0
2c28ab74bf5b172998983e3ac5034af0

(0)

on January 01, 2014
at 05:21 AM

I've discovered that my horrible breakouts and itchyness over the past year get better on a dairy free diet, and the boils (not pimples, BOILS) come back every time i "cheat". I recently decided to try goat cheese thinking maybe it's a cow's milk thing (and because i'm developing cavities since having gone dairy-free about 9 months ago). But NOPE, bad breakout again, and itchy all over. I'm not lactose intolerant, btw, which makes things worse, since I love dairy and would otherwise eat tons of it.

-1
498440c7104d114f9f76f7cc8e0356b4

(-2)

on March 14, 2012
at 12:34 AM

wow..really. Just don't ingest. Have some self-control. Casein creates inflammation in your cells at the foundation of your body and systems. Acne is a manifestation and warning signal that you are creating an unhealthy foundation to support disease in your body. I would rather forego the dairy than possibly develop disease later. It's a no-brainer. The reduction of inflammation at a cellular level also balances your body, balances your hormones which in turn regulates insulin (which is a hormone) and reduces weight to a normal balanced level. Forget the dairy..

2c28ab74bf5b172998983e3ac5034af0

(0)

on January 01, 2014
at 05:23 AM

wow, i think i will! i've had enough of the itching and horrible cystic acne!

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