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What is the connection between dairy products and acne? Is there a link between drinking milk and developing bad skin problems? Whether mild or severe, Acne is an annoyance that strikes during the teen years for many people. The pimples that result aren’t just damaging to your appearance; they can also lead to scarring. While it’s true that diet does not cause acne, some research has suggested that certain foods may play a role in worsening breakouts. Among these are dairy products.
Milk is often said to be good for you because of its protein content. Some studies have shown milk to be beneficial against acne, while others have linked it with worsening breakouts.
What does the research say?
One reason some researchers have hypothesized that milk may help fight acne is because of its calcium content. It appears that calcium is essential in fighting the hormone prolactin, which has been linked to acne breakouts. Researchers also believe that milk protein, called casein, acts as a mild exfoliant and removes dead skin cells from the surface of your face. Both these effects may improve your complexion.
In addition, when you remove dairy products from your diet, you reduce the amount of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in your body. IGF-1 stimulates oil production and can worsen acne problems, so avoiding dairy products might help lessen this effect by lowering IGF-1 levels in your blood.
On the flip side, some studies suggest that consuming dairy products during adolescence may increase acne and worsen breakouts. It is because IGF-1 levels in your body remain high when you finish a lot of dairy products. Another theory suggests that male hormones found in milk—both cows’ and humans’—may trigger acne outbreaks. Other studies have found that cow’s milk might contribute to the development of acne rosacea or sensitive skin types as well as eczema and psoriasis.
How can milk trigger acne?
Milk contains the hormones estrogen, progesterone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and DHEA. While estrogen is helpful against acne in low levels, it can worsen skin problems if you have too much of it—and milk products are a common source of these hormones. A study found that drinking milk increases male hormone levels by 300 percent!
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1):
IGF-1 causes the skin to produce more sebum (oil). Too much oil aggravates acne. Milk, again, seems to cause a spike in this hormone. IGF-1 stimulates oil production, which triggers breakouts; when you remove dairy from your diet, you reduce IGF-1 levels in your blood.
The milk sugar lactose is broken down into galactose and glucose by an enzyme called beta-galactosidase. These two sugars are then broken down into hydrogen peroxide, which has been shown to trigger acne. The lactic acid in dairy causes inflammation and redness that aggravates existing acne or may cause new breakouts to form.
Casein is a protein found in milk products. It acts as a mild exfoliant and removes dead skin cells from the surface of your face. Both these effects may improve your complexion, but casein can also worsen acne by irritating your skin and triggering a breakout. Casein is a protein that is listed in the ‘D’ section of the allergy list. Casein has been linked to acne-causing inflammation and breakouts.
What kinds of milk trigger acne?
The results from research on dairy products have been mixed. While some studies have shown that skim milk might worsen skin problems, others indicate that it may be beneficial against acne. Whole milk seems to be the worst offender, but research is also finding that low-fat dairy might not have any effect on your breakouts.
If you want to drink milk or eat yogurt or cheese, choose organic or raw dairy products whenever possible. This way, you avoid pesticides and hormones used in traditional dairy farming, which is linked to an increased risk of acne.
When to avoid having milk?
- Skip if you feel it is triggering your breakouts:
It’s worth it to go without if you find that dairy is causing your skin problems. This might be because of the hormones, the casein (a protein in milk), or the lactic acid (which can cause inflammation). If you eat out at restaurants regularly, ask your waiter if they use any dairy products in their sauce—the restaurant could use a different sauce instead.
- Skip for a few weeks:
If you think dairy is responsible for triggering your acne, try going without it entirely for a few weeks and see if your skin improves. It may take up to six months before you notice an effect from your dietary changes. In some cases, people with sensitive skin types cannot tolerate even low levels of milk in their diet.
- If you are lactose intolerant:
Most of the world’s population cannot properly digest lactose and the milk sugar it contains, making it a common cause of digestive problems. If you feel that your stomach is upset after drinking milk, try adjusting your diet. It might help to eliminate dairy for a few weeks and then reintroduce small amounts at a time until you find out which foods make you feel sick or uncomfortable.
What is the alternative of milk you can have if you have acne?
There are many healthy alternatives to dairy.
- Soy milk
This is a zero-cholesterol alternative that is high in protein and calcium. If you need to use lactose-free milk, soy milk can be a healthy choice. However, those with acne should avoid this as it can trigger breakouts if consumed more than twice per week. It has estrogen-like properties which stimulate acne.
- Almond milk
Almond milk has many of the same properties as soy milk but without any estrogenic effect. This is another good choice for lactose-intolerant individuals looking to replace dairy in their diet with an alternative containing calcium and protein content. If you have acne, try limiting this type of milk to one serving per day. Also, make sure it’s not sweetened; otherwise, it will trigger your breakout.
- Rice/coconut/oat/hemp/almond-coconut blend
You can use all kinds of nut or rice milk instead. If you are allergic to nuts, then coconut milk is an excellent option for you! It can be consumed in a variety of ways, from smoothies to cereal. Hemp milk also contains Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids, which you can add to your tea or juice for a healthy, quick breakfast. If you find that dairy irritates your stomach, try this combination instead.
- If you want to drink milk, consider organic or raw dairy products:
To avoid hormones and pesticides, try buying organic or natural dairy products whenever possible. Ask your waiter if they use any dairy in their sauce when you are dining out.
If you have acne, these are the variants you can try and do not want to give up on milk. Otherwise, you can always switch to lactose-free milk.
Apply milk topically for acne:
Applying milk to treat your acne might seem like a good idea. Applying milk topically can treat acne because it contains lactic acid, an alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) that promotes gentle peeling of the skin and kills acne-causing bacteria. The milk used in this way does not contain high amounts of AHA, so it should not irritate your skin. Benefits of using milk externally to prevent acne:
- Moisturize your skin:
- Milk contains lactic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid that helps your skin shed dead cells faster and stimulates new cell growth. This can help improve your complexion and give you a healthy glow from the inside out. It also won’t strip away essential moisture from acne-prone skin like harsher chemical peels do because it is entirely non-abrasive and hydrating for your skin.
- Treat acne:
- The lactic acid in milk acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent to reduce the redness of acne and calm irritated skin. It can also help with any post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation when your body produces too much melanin after inflammation has been cleared. The lactic acid in milk can help reduce the amount of melanin produced, leading to a clearer, brighter complexion from the seemingly invisible blemishes that go away but leave spots behind.
- Kill acne-causing bacteria:
- If you struggle with acne, you know how difficult it is to find a product that will kill acne-causing bacteria. The lactic acid in milk is a commonly used natural antibiotic that’s gentle enough for most skin types. It has been shown to kill the lipid-coated, acne-causing P. acnes bacterium without damaging your skin or leaving it feeling dry.
- Inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria:
- In addition to lactic acid, milk contains various nutrients that have been shown to kill skin-aging bacteria and prevent acne. These nutrients include epidermal growth factors, cytokines, cathelicidins, and lactoferrin.
- Milk for acne scars:
- The lactic acid in milk can also help fade away acne scars by gently resurfacing your skin and stimulating the growth of new, more even-toned skin.
Milk is also rich in vitamin E and B vitamins, which can help nourish your skin and reduce scarring caused by sun damage.
Milk is full of nutrients that are very beneficial for our skin. It’s high in vitamin A, B12, D, E, and K, fighting acne and making our skin healthy. It contains lactic acid, which exfoliates dead skin cells and reduces marks of aging. Milk also has antibacterial properties that help prevent breakouts caused by bacteria.
How to apply milk to your skin:
- Milk and Multani mitti face pack:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of Multani mitti (Fuller’s earth) with one teaspoon of milk to make a smooth paste. Apply this mixture on the face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for 10 minutes or until dry, then rinse it off with cold water. Follow up with your regular moisturizer and sunscreen(In case you have been out in the sun). Apply this pack twice or thrice a week to get rid of acne & pimples naturally without any side effects.
- Milk and turmeric face pack:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric, a pinch of milk, and a drop of lemon juice to make a smooth paste. Apply this onto the face and neck for 10-15 minutes until dry. Rinse off with cold water. This pack is excellent for oily skin.
- Milk & honey face pack:
- In 1 teaspoon of raw milk, add a few drops of raw honey and mix it well. Apply this mixture on the face and leave until dry, then rinse it off with cold water. Milk helps in lightening skin tone, while honey helps in making your skin glowy& gives nourishment. Use this pack twice or thrice a week to get rid of acne & pimples naturally without any side effects.
- Clarifying milk peel:
- To this mixture, add some drops of lemon essential oil and mix well. Apply on the face and neck in upward strokes and let it dry for about five minutes or so—until you see white patches where the mask has dried. Now dampen hands with water and gently massage for another minute until you feel tiny granules exfoliating dead cells from the surface. Rinse off thoroughly after three minutes using lukewarm water, then splash cold water on the face to seal moisture into pores.
- Milk containing toner:
- Milk is an excellent ingredient for toner because it’s rich in lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid that exfoliates the top layer of dead skin cells and stimulates collagen production. It also has a high pH level which makes it an excellent antibacterial agent.
- Milk and avocado face mask:
- In one bowl, mash half avocado with half a teaspoon of milk to form a paste consistency mask. Apply the mask on your face and leave it on for about 20 minutes or until dry. Rinse off with cold water followed by regular moisturizer.
- Acne also needs medical attention; please consult your dermatologist for proper treatment. If you want a natural remedy for your acne, you can also consider homeopathic acne treatment.
Homeopathic acne treatment:
Homeopathy is an excellent safe & natural system of acne treatment; homeopathic medicines are also effective in preventing scar formation. Homeopathy treats the whole person by getting to the root cause of symptoms instead of suppressing them, while side effects are minimal or none.
Homeopathic treatment for acne helps in controlling the severity and further outbreaks of acne. It also reduces scar formation or hyperpigmentation, prevents ongoing damage to skin cells, and normalizes sebum production by controlling hormonal imbalances. It has minimal side effects, unlike other conventional system of medicine. Homeopathy treats acne from the inside out and helps strengthen the immune system, and regulates hormonal levels at the same time. Book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy to get quick relief from your acne.