• Shih Po Ching Hannah

Do dairy products affect pimples?

Shih Po Ching Hannah, HK BioTek Intern

Acne, typically known as a pimple or a clogged pore, is one of the most common skin conditions. Nearly 85 percent of the human race encounter acne in their lives, it is estimated that acne affects 50 million people each year. Read on to see how acne forms and how dairy products affect acne.


What is the mechanism behind acne formation?

Our skin is covered in millions of pores, very small holes, which sit at your hair follicles. The surface of your skin is connected to a gland called the sebaceous gland through pores. The sebaceous gland secretes an oily substance called sebum. Small amounts of sebum are released continually into the hair follicles and skin to make hair shiny and to prevent skin from becoming dry. Dead skin cells are also carried up with the sebum so they can be washed away.


Every so often the sebaceous gland secretes too much sebum making the pores to be clogged. The excess oil and dead skin cells form a plug in the gland. This pore becomes clogged with sebum and possibly bacteria. The bacteria multiply and may lead to an infection, swelling, and inflammation around the clogged pore. A white tip of pus will sometimes form at the top of the clogged pore, creates a pimple.


Dairy breakdown and how it can affect the skin?

Although the link between dairy products and acne has been controversial, it may influence or aggravate it. There are a few theories about how consuming dairy might affect acne.

  • Growth hormones: Milk naturally contains a variety of hormones, such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which is a hormone in the blood. IGF-1 may increase sebum production and in turn increase the chance of pores being blocked. Other hormones in milk like prolactin, prostaglandins, and steroids can also interact with our own hormones, which confuse our body’s endocrine system and signal acne breakouts.

  • Milk protein: Milk contains two proteins, casein and whey. Whey in particular seems to be a particular culprit of causing acne as it increases the production of IGF-1. Besides, it can trigger the production of androgens, which causes skin inflammation and also stimulates the sebaceous gland.

  • Lactose: Lactose is the natural sugar present in milk. After infancy, it becomes more difficult for humans to break lactose down and digest it. The inability of breaking down lactose down is called lactose intolerance, and acne may be one of the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

While dairy products in diet might or might not be the cause of acne breakouts, there are things that we can do to prevent acne, for example, wash your face daily, keep your body well-hydrated and routinely use moisturizer.


Reference:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/dairy-and-acne#takeaway

  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dairy-and-acne#is-there-a-link

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