DIET: Gluten Intolerance and Acne

9:07 pm

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, dermatologist or skin specialist. Whatever conclusions or statements made here are my own opinions based on my own experimentation and experiences. 

 As a teenager, I was blessed with pretty normal-oily combination skin. Whilst I do have visible pores and a tendency towards whiteheads on my nose, on the whole my skin was pretty good. Any acne was limited to the occasional "normal" pimple that popped up once in awhile, and disappeared pretty quickly.

The Beginning

About 1 years ago, I came to the conclusion that I suffer from gluten intolerance. This is after about another 1 year prior of being in constant pain and discomfort, going through repeated phases of gluten-free diet trials, feeling awesome, falling off the gluten-free wagon and suffering all over again as I was in denial about being gluten intolerant. Prior to my early 20's I'd always been healthy, ate whatever I wanted without any consequence, so it was only natural that I was reluctant to believe that I could be someone with a food allergy that would cramp my gastronomic style! I even got my GP to test me for Coeliac Disease, but by then I'd been gluten free for a good month, so the results are debatable. However the reality was, whenever I went gluten free, I stopped suffering.

The Acne

Around this same time I started getting bouts of horrible, never-before-experienced ACNE that resisted all treatments I threw at it. I thought perhaps it was the stress of me planning my wedding that led to IBS and stress-breakouts, or perhaps all those testing out of different foundations / skin serums was freaking my skin out. My skin went from fairly clear, to suddenly having angry, painful, red, swollen-under-the-skin type lumpy acne and rashes, all concentrated around the jaw/ chin area, sides of the cheekbones, temples and middle of my forehead. Every time one went, two came back again with a vengeance. Popping them didn't help. Not popping them didn't help. No amount of zit gels made any difference. I went from clear skin to being riddled with dark reddish scars around my jaw, cheeks and forehead. I was freaking out, as the acne would flare up randomly whenever I thought it was gone for good.

The Hypothesis

One day, when I was complaining to my husband about another returning flare up of The Evil Acne, I jokingly blamed it on my gluten intolerance. This DID cause me to think, and recall back how the "random" re-occurrence of the acne tended to coincide with the times when I fell off my gluten-free wagon in denial (and started eating gluten in my diet again). I did my research, and found this article HERE and HERE, that at least proved that while it's not concrete evidence that gluten= acne, it at least shows I'm not the only crazy person in the world who thinks my food allergy is causing me acne.

The Experiment

I conducted experiments to see if my theories proved true. I went gluten-free consistently for at least for 3-4 weeks, and kept my routine and skincare/makeup the same. After the first 4-6 days I would notice the usual lessening of discomfort, bloat etc, but also no more reappearence of any new zits. Any existing acne started to lessen in redness and swelling, and started showing signs of drying up (like normal zits). By week 2, 98% of the zits would've gone, leaving only the usual dark red scars. Once my skin had calmed down and went back to normal for another 2-3weeks, I'd switched to a regular gluten-inclusive diet again. Within 1 week, the angry swollen zits start appearing again in the usual places along my jawline, cheeks and temple. I repeated this experiment another 2-3 times, and consistently whenever I went gluten free, the zits went away. Whenever I started fell off the gluten-free wagon, they'd come back. They would always be the same kind of stubborn, swollen-under-the-skin type zits, and always in the same areas.

The Conclusion

I don't have the skills nor the equipment to analyse what is going on with my body on a hormonal/ chemical level, but based on my repeated experiments and results, I firmly believe that due to my gluten intolerance, ingesting gluten does cause acne (on my person). I have been steadily gluten free for about a year now (barring the occasional lapse when I cave and stuff my face with pizza), and I have observed my face and body look and feel better. I admit it is a pain in the butt having to miss out on delicious bread and pasta, but I thank God that mine is a non life-threatening allergy.

The Advice

I'm not a professional medical person, I'm just sharing my experience. If you're experiencing similar physical symptoms, similar acne and nothing else seems to explain why, try checking if you have a food allergy. It makes sense that if your body is allergic to something, coming into contact with these allergens would send your immune system into a revolt, which could cause the havoc that displays itself in inflammation which could lead to your skin being more prone to breaking out. Obviously, don't just simply start cutting out major food groups permanently or you may be causing yourself to suffer nutritionally. If in doubt, get advice from your local GP before embarking on anything drastic.

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