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Can Gluten Cause Acne? (Separating Myths From Facts)

Can gluten cause acne? This question has intrigued scientists, dieticians, and the beauty-conscious populace for a long time. In our quest for clear skin, we often scrutinize our diet.

One culprit that repeatedly catches our attention is gluten. We aim to explore this topic and debunk some myths related to gluten, celiac disease, acne, and more.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • While not definitive, evidence suggests a link between gluten and acne, especially in individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

  • Symptoms of gluten intolerance can manifest in various ways, including abdominal pain, frequent headaches, and skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and acne.

  • A combination of a gluten-free diet, if needed, and targeted topical treatments like chemical peels can effectively manage acne.

  • Exposed Skin Care offers a comprehensive, scientifically-backed approach to acne management, making it a valuable tool in a skincare routine.

Homemade tart with almond flour and almond with gluten

Understanding Gluten: What Is It Really?

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and other grains like barley and rye. It gives dough its elastic nature, making it a popular ingredient in many food products, from bread to salad dressings.

But while gluten is safe for most people, others with certain health conditions may experience adverse effects from eating gluten.

The Gluten-Acne Link

Celiac Disease: More Than Just a Gut Problem

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where consuming gluten triggers an immune system reaction that damages the small intestine. People with celiac disease experience many symptoms, including gastrointestinal issues, excessive fatigue, frequent headaches, and skin problems.

Dermatitis herpetiformis, a blistery rash, is a skin manifestation of celiac disease. While it's not acne, it raises questions about whether gluten can affect skin health differently.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: Beyond the Gut

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is another condition where individuals experience symptoms upon eating gluten without having celiac disease. Symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms, skin rashes, and other issues like frequent headaches and excessive fatigue.

It is not entirely clear whether NCGS is a cause of acne. Still, it contributes to the body of anecdotal and clinical evidence supporting a link between gluten and skin conditions.

Wheat Allergy: A Different Reaction

A wheat allergy is a reaction to wheat in which the immune system creates antibodies to fight the perceived threat. Wheat allergy can lead to skin issues, including eczema and hives, but whether it can cause acne remains to be seen.

Female in apron holds wheat spikelets and bread

Gluten's Impact on the Skin

Gluten and the Gut-Skin Axis

Emerging research suggests a connection between gut health and skin condition, often called the gut-skin axis. Inflammatory responses in the gut, triggered by gluten in those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, might impact the skin, potentially causing acne breakouts.

Gluten, Blood Sugar, and Acne

The blood sugar spike that follows gluten consumption can potentially contribute to acne. Gluten-rich foods are often high in refined carbohydrates, increasing blood sugar and insulin levels.

This can result in an increase in sebum production and inflammatory response, both of which are contributing factors to acne.

Gluten-Free Diet: A Solution to Acne?

The gluten-free diet, often a medical necessity for people with celiac disease, has become a popular choice for individuals seeking relief from various health concerns, from digestive troubles to skin problems. Could a gluten-free diet be the key to clear skin?

Pros and Cons of a Gluten-Free Diet

A strict gluten-free diet eliminates many processed foods, which can help reduce acne. However, it's important to note that a gluten-free diet isn't inherently healthier or more balanced; it's possible to eat a gluten-free diet high in sugar and fiber, which could exacerbate acne.

Young dark haired girl with a saucer of gluten free cookies

Nutritional Considerations

Adopting a gluten-free diet without proper planning can lead to nutritional deficiencies, as many whole grains are good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, careful meal planning is necessary for those adopting a gluten-free diet for any reason, including skin health.

Gluten-Free and Skin Health: What Does the Research Say?

The evidence supporting a connection between gluten and acne is primarily anecdotal. Scientific research has not provided direct evidence that cutting gluten from one's diet can improve acne.

However, many individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease report improvement in their skin condition after adopting a gluten-free diet.

The Bottom Line: Can Gluten Cause Acne?

While there is no conclusive answer yet, it's possible that consuming gluten could contribute to acne in some individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Further research is needed to establish a link and understand the mechanisms behind it definitively.

Recognizing the Signs of Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance, often termed non-celiac gluten sensitivity, has symptoms that can affect multiple systems in the body, including the skin. Recognizing these signs can help you identify potential triggers for your acne breakouts.

  • Abdominal pain: One of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance, it occurs as the immune system responds to gluten in the gut.

Woman suffering from strong abdominal pain

  • Frequent headaches: Suffering from frequent headaches or migraines might indicate gluten intolerance.

  • Atopic dermatitis: This inflammatory skin condition characterized by itchy, red, swollen, and cracked skin might indicate intolerance to gluten.

  • Hormonal acne: Although hormonal fluctuations primarily cause this type of acne, the inflammation caused by gluten intolerance could exacerbate the condition.

  • Immune dysfunction: Persistent illnesses or recurrent infections might indicate an underlying immune dysfunction, a sign of gluten intolerance.

  • Fatigue: Gluten intolerance can lead to persistent fatigue or tiredness.

You might need immediate medical attention if these symptoms occur frequently, especially after eating gluten-containing foods. Medical professionals can conduct necessary tests to determine if you are gluten intolerant and advise you accordingly.

Topical Treatments and Diet for Acne

While a gluten-free diet might benefit some, others may need additional solutions for managing their acne. This section will focus on some of the external treatments available and how they can be coupled with dietary modifications to alleviate acne breakouts potentially.

Chemical peels are a popular treatment option. These peels, often containing substances like salicylic acid, can penetrate the skin and unclog pores, reducing the incidence of acne breakouts.

It's essential to use these under the guidance of a skincare professional, as they can potentially cause skin irritation if misused.

Consider adopting the following dietary habits for optimal skin health:

  • Consider protein supplements: If your diet lacks protein, consider adding a high-quality protein supplement. Proteins are the building blocks of your skin, and a deficiency can affect your skin's health and appearance.

Woman taking protein supplement pills

  • Reduce consumption of allergic substances: Allergenic foods like dairy and gluten can exacerbate acne in specific individuals. Monitor your body's reactions to certain foods and avoid those that seem to cause breakouts.

  • Identify the root cause: In some cases, acne may indicate an underlying health issue, such as hormonal imbalance or gut dysfunction. In such cases, tackling the root cause can help reduce acne.

Coupling a balanced, potentially gluten-free diet with suitable topical treatments, one may find an effective strategy for dealing with acne.

Harnessing the Power of Exposed Skin Care for Acne Management

Exposed Skin Care is an acclaimed skincare line designed to combat acne, making it an excellent choice for young adults grappling with this common skin concern.

Exposed Skin Care Ultimate Kit

Backed by medical research, this product line offers multiple benefits:

  • Potent Formulations: The products are carefully formulated with a blend of scientific and natural ingredients known to combat acne, such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and green tea extract.

  • Targeted Approach: The Exposed Skin Care system adopts a comprehensive approach to skincare, offering cleansers, toners, and treatment serums to target acne at every stage.

  • Suitable for Various Skin Types: Whether your skin is oily, dry, or in combination, Exposed Skin Care caters to various skin types, offering solutions tailored to individual skincare needs.

Consistent use of Exposed Skin Care products can help manage acne, reduce inflammation, and promote healthier, clearer skin. As with any skin care regimen, results may vary.


The connection between gluten and acne remains complex and nuanced. Emerging evidence suggests that consuming gluten may trigger or exacerbate acne breakouts for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Coupled with symptoms of gluten intolerance, like abdominal pain, hormonal acne, and immune dysfunction, it's clear that diet can play a significant role in skin health. Combining dietary adjustments with external treatments like chemical peels can create a multi-faceted approach to managing acne.

For young adults and others struggling with this common skin issue, comprehensive skincare lines such as Exposed Skin Care, backed by medical research, offer powerful, multi-step solutions. While the journey to clear skin may be complicated, integrating dietary changes and thoughtful skincare routines could pave the way to healthier skin.


Q: Why does gluten cause acne?

A: While the direct link between gluten and acne is not definitively established, there are a few theories. Gluten can cause an inflammatory response in those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity; inflammation is a known contributor to acne.

Additionally, foods containing gluten often also lead to blood sugar spikes, another factor in acne development.

Q: What does a gluten breakout look like?

A: It's hard to define a "gluten breakout" as gluten-related skin conditions can vary greatly. Dermatitis herpetiformis, for instance, is a blistery, itchy rash that is associated with celiac disease. Some individuals with gluten sensitivity report acne-like symptoms, but it varies widely.

Q: What does gluten do to your face?

A: In some individuals, particularly those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten could lead to an inflammatory response that might manifest in the skin, potentially causing rashes or acne breakouts.

Q: What food causes acne?

A: No specific food causes acne, but diet can be a contributing factor. Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, dairy products, and certain fats have been linked to acne. It's worth noting that these foods are often processed and contain gluten, further complicating the question, "Can gluten cause acne?"

Q: Can a gluten-free diet help with acne?

A: Many people have reported improved skin health after adopting a gluten-free diet. However, it's essential to maintain a balanced diet while going gluten-free to avoid nutritional deficiencies.