While many of us often think of acne as a teenage suffering caused by raging hormones, there are many other things that can cause acne, and acne can affect people of all ages. One of the lesser known causes of acne is food allergies. Swelling and inflammation of the skin is one of the symptoms of an allergy; Acne is just another type of inflammation.
If you notice pimples appearing after you eat certain foods, you may have a food allergy. Other more common symptoms of food allergies include swelling, itching, difficulty breathing, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If you suspect a food allergy, see an allergist for a diagnosis. He or she may perform a skin prick test, apply a small amount of the allergen to a scratch on the skin on your arm or back and observe the reaction. He or she may also perform an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) test to check for antibodies in your blood. Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat your system, but the best treatment for allergies is to stay away from the foods you are allergic to. If you have a severe allergy, your doctor may give you epinephrine to save if you have an anaphylactic (life-threatening) reaction.
Food intolerance, which is a gastrointestinal reaction, can also cause skin problems, but these cannot be detected by IgE or skin prick tests. If your test is negative for a food allergy, your doctor may perform other tests to check if you have a food intolerance, or he or she may instruct you on an elimination diet. In this case you will remove the suspected allergen from your diet for a period of time and then reintroduce them one by one. When acne and other symptoms return, you’ll know what food caused it. In cases of food intolerance, there is no treatment and you must abstain from eating the offending food to remain symptom free.