spicy food cause acne

Acne 101: Can Spicy Food Cause Acne?

Does spicy food cause acne?

Do you love the taste of spicy burritos loaded with jalapeños and chilies?

Maybe your a curry lover and cant get enough of the tongue blistering vindaloo?

Whether its Mexican, Indian, Italian or any other type of spicy food you love, one thing is for sure, nobody likes spots!

So can spicy food cause acne?

What acne problem?

Millions of us across the world are battling acne and it is said to affect the vast majority of us at some point in our lives.1

Surprisingly, the average age of those with acne is actually around 25 years old. Therefore, the image many people have of this being a problem only for teenagers is actually wholly inaccurate.

What’s more, acne has been shown to contribute to serious health problems such as depression and mental disorders.2

Unfortunately many people suffer with this terrible skin condition well into their adult lives with a large percentage of women carrying this into their fifties.

Why do we get acne?

Most experts agree that acne is the result of a hormonal imbalance within the body.

When our systems are not working correctly the glands in our skin begin to produce more oil which then builds up in our pores.

Dead skin cells and bacteria can become trapped in the oils and then nice big spots can form. Lovely!

Luckily for us, as acne is the most common skin condition in the world, there is a trove of research that has been conducted to find its causes.

Tackling this pestilent disease can be an arduous battle. However, we do now have the answers that can help anyone rid themselves of this problem.

However first things first. Can spicy food cause acne?

Does spicy food cause acne?

Firstly, we must define what we mean by spicy food. For the sake of this article we are referring to any food that contains spices as an added ingredient.

Everything from takeaways to our home cooked favorites.

Now, when we take the spices found inside of spicy food on their own, then on the whole, we can say that spices do not cause acne within themselves.

On the contrary, many common spices have been shown to have great benefits for our skin and on our health in general.

We can do well to include more spices in our diet as many can be classed as super foods thanks to their wonderful benefits.

What about the spice sweats?

Now, spices can make us sweat more when we eat them. If we continue to eat more and more, day in and day out, without washing ourselves, this build up of sweat can cause spots.

This is true for anyone that doesn’t wash often enough. However this is unlikely to cause chronic acne and the spots it does cause are from the build-up of sweat.

Therefore the spices themselves are not causing the acne.

For chronic acne, sweating from eating spices will not be the cause.

Despite this however, spicy food often has many other ingredients which have been shown to contribute to acne.

If we wish to know how to enjoy the delicious tastes of spices in our food, we can choose to make a few informed changes to our recipes and say goodbye to our acne for good.

Lets take a look at why we should definitely include spices in our dishes.

Spicy sensations – The great benefits of spices

Many common spices are actually fantastic for our health and our skin is no exception.

Many of us take on a significant amount of our daily requirements of vitamins and minerals from spices.

It would be foolish to remove these succulent flavors from our food!

Spices are our friends

The truth is that most people that suffer with chronic acne have been shown to be deficient in critical nutrients such as vitamins A, D and E.3

Many spices can increase our levels of these essential vitamins, which can help balance our internal hormones and fight off chronic acne.

A perfect and famous example of this is turmeric. This wonder spice has been used heavily in Asian and especially Indian cuisine for thousands of years.

It was first used primarily for its healing properties and became included in cuisine over time. The best of both worlds.

It has been shown to tackle many common health problems, from improving memory through removing heavy metals, to improving the functioning of our eyesight and aiding in the prevention of blindness.

One review of ten large studies showed that turmeric had significant beneficial results on not only acne but also on other skin conditions such as alopecia, atopic dermatitis, facial photoaging, psoriasis and vitiligo, plus a few others.9

Thankfully, spices such as turmeric are now found all over the world and are easily accessible for most of us to buy. This is great news as it is hard to truly describe the wonders of spices such as this.

Loaded with nutrients

Others, such as chilies, have been shown to have a great effect on our skin thanks to being loaded with beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin A is a crucial component for the health of our skin.

Most spices contain essential vitamins and minerals that are very important for healthy skin and critical for our fight against acne.

Despite extreme cases of excessive spice consumption, the potent flavors, and sometimes addictive heat, should not be discounted from our diets.

It is our strong recommendation that you continue to include them with your food as both an excellent flavor additive and for your nutritional requirements.

So feel free to load up on extra jalapeños and the stronger chilies. Add in some vibrant orange turmeric and dive into that curry!

For the most part they can greatly benefit our health.

Spicy acne food – How does spicy food cause acne?

We have ruled out any chance that spices cause acne on their own.

Spicy foods and acne
Spicy foods and acne

So what other ingredients do we find that makes spicy food cause acne?

The most important are:

  1. Dairy
  2. Oils
  3. Sugar

To take a sample of this, and explain how this all fits in, let’s first take a look at the world famous curry.

Now often there are many delicious spices loaded into curries themselves.

It is hard to resist a lovely colorful curry, with a sweet or spicy sauce, along with some well cooked rice and a side of naan bread.

The sauces themselves can contain a dizzying array of ingredients and dairy, oils and even sugar can be plentiful.

It is not just Indian food. In fact, for those of us that follow it, the western diet has been shown to be highly correlated with acne.4Therefore, if we are struggling with acne, we must be aware of the effects that these can have.

Luckily in our modern world it is not hard to exchange these ingredients with a better alternative.


One of the main culprits is dairy. Examples found in many spicy foods are:

  1. Milk
  2. Cream
  3. Cheese

These types of dairy can often be found in spicy food from all over the world.

The bad news is that unfortunately, dairy has been linked to acne itself and has been shown to cause breakouts.5,6,7

Dairy has been shown to be the number one culprit of acne for many people. Some people have seen an almost complete cessation of their acne just by stopping dairy.

We said earlier that acne is often seen to be a hormonal problem within the body itself and dairy is loaded with hormones.

For more information, we have a great article explaining the dairy and acne connection.

Essential fats and oils

Another important ingredient to consider when looking at how spicy food causes acne, is fats and oils.

Many oils used as the primary cooking oils across the world are hydrogenated and I bet you have some in your cupboard at home right now.

A lot of spicy food, especially if its been ordered from a takeaway, will contain significant amounts of oil that can lead to acne.

Problem oils for Acne

Hydrogenated oils are oils that have gone through a heavy processing schedule usually to increase their shelf life. Examples of hydrogenated oils that can make spicy food cause acne are:

  1. Palm Oil
  1. Sunflower Oil
  2. Cotton-seed Oil
  1. Soy-bean Oil
  2. Margarine

The reason these oils can induce acne is their effect on our balance of essential fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids are a critical component of our overall health and especially that of our skin.

We need to aim for a balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 to maintain a healthy system.

When we consume too high a ratio of Omega-6, we create greater inflammation in the body.8

This is very bad news for those of us that suffer with this problem and it is one of the ways that spicy food causes acne.

We have all experienced red, inflamed and bulging skin that ruins our complexion and draws attention to our embarrassing spots.

Healthy oils for acne

We can fix this problem by choosing to cook our spicy foods in healthier alternatives.

Excellent examples of these oils are:

  1. Coconut Oil
  1. Olive Oil
  2. Walnut Oil
  3. Avocado Oil

These oils are far superior to most hydrogenated oils and contain a greater balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids.

This can be a big thing to do as many products contain these oils in large amounts.

It is important to remember that these oils can sometimes explain why spicy food causes acne.

Sweet sugar

Last but not least is sugar. Some spicy meals come with sauces and sides that contain lots of sugar.

The inflammatory nature of sugar can cause problems for acne sufferers.

Although spicy foods do not always contain sugar it is something to be aware of especially if you choose the sweeter sides.

Insulin is a very important hormone and excess sugar can cause problems with the functioning of the insulin pathways.

This can send our hormones out of whack and lead to skin problems.

Help me heal acne – Important information

Acne is the most common skin disease in the world.

What is important to remember is that acne is a hormonal problem and many different things can negatively affect our hormonal balance.

For some removing dairy, certain oils and sugar, might just do the trick and stop the worst of it. One change alone could be the tipping factor.

It is often the case that a combination of sources are the joint cause of acne.

Luckily, there are just as many combined solutions that can be extremely effective at beating acne completely.

For the fastest and most effective way to finally rid yourself of this problem we recommend taking a multi-pronged, proactive approach.

This can lead to a far quicker recovery and a restoration of the skin to a fresher and clearer complexion.

Conclusion – Does spicy food cause acne?

As we can see the answer isn’t so obvious. To be clear, spicy food can cause acne but it is not the spices themselves that cause the problem.

Often, spicy food contains lots of dairy and is cooked heavily in hydrogenated oils. These two ingredients have been shown to cause acne breakouts.

If you consume lots of spicy food it is advisable to use alternatives to these ingredients. This will allow you to continue to enjoy the delicious tastes and wonderful health benefits that the spices themselves can provide.

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