Does Spicy Food Cause Acne?

| Last Updated: September 5, 2019 |

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If you’re prone to acne, you may have noticed flair-ups after eating spicy foods like hot peppers. Are they linked? Does spicy food cause acne? Or is this simply a case of ill-timed coincidence?

Truth be told, the food itself typically doesn’t cause acne, but the side effects of eating spicy foods like hot peppers certainly increase the chances of a breakout occurring. That’s especially true if you’re not used to eating spicy foods. 

How are spicy foods linked to acne?

It’s the sweat. Spicy foods cause an inflammatory reaction in the body which causes a rise in temperature, followed by that spice sweat any hot pepper fan knows so well. The sweat increases the likelihood of a breakout, and the less comfortable you are with spice in general, the more likely you will sweat. That sweat triggers oils to be released in the skin, and it’s those oils that trap the dirt and bacteria which cause acne.

How can you prevent a spicy food breakout?

One thing you can do is wash your face after you experience the sweat reaction. That’ll help remove excess oils. Also using a clay mask after a particularly well-spiced meal can help immensely.

If you commonly get breakouts, another option is to build up your tolerance so that you sweat less. Start low on the pepper scale. Get used to mild chilies first, like a poblano or an Anaheim pepper, before jumping up to medium heat like the jalapeño. And don’t take the jump to the hotter peppers until you’ve mastered those medium heat chilies. This way, you’ll be less prone to have extreme inflammatory reactions.

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