Useful tests for food sensitivity causing cystic acne?

Our son has severe acne and the medications keep getting ramped up by his dermatologist, but are not having much success (and I am becoming more and more uncomfortable with him having so many antibiotics in his system over a long period of time). I have heard of people having food sensitivities-are there reliable tests for these? Dropping different foods one at a time is difficult at this point given everything else going on. We are on a long wait list for an excellent acne specialist, and that will be happening, so recommendations for people are not as useful at this point. Thanks!!

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My son also suffered from terrible acne and there were two food related changes that brought it under control. The first was to remove dairy products from his diet, which was tough because he loves ice cream and cheese. However, the change in his skin was striking. We also eliminated foods with iodine and in particular, a multi vitamin that contained iodine. If your son takes a multi vitamin, it is a good idea to check it to see if it has iodine, which is  a big trigger for acne. With those two changes and a nightly routine with OTC products, his skin stays relatively clear with occasional light break outs. Best of luck to you. 

Antibiotics did nothing for my kiddo's acne. We finally decided (with much trepidation) to do Accutane. It was a complete success. We know lots of kids who found great relief & success with Accutane with no side effects. I was very nervous, but it was a game-changer. Sorry if this answer is off-topic, but I know how terrible acne is!

We struggled with this for our son. We did not want to give him harsh meds for his acne and had been seeking alternatives. Luckily, we found an acne person in Oakland and the foods to reduce/avoid: soy, dairy - milk and cheese, canola oil, shellfish, seaweed/kelp, peanuts/peanut butter and Iodized salt. We have seen a great response to cutting these out. Peanut butter was the most difficult for my son, however, he does eat it every once in awhile. Pizza with cheese is also difficult.  I know that I couldn't live without these two foods!  

I was in the same situation from age 13 and was given constant antibiotics which never helped the acne at all but probably did damage my immune system. In my early 20’s (STILL with cystic acne) I was given a brand new drug—Accutane. This came with a million warnings because apparently there are terrible birth defects if you take it while pregnant. I  was put on birth control pills (which was fine with me as I would have done ANYTHING at this point that offered me hope.) I took it for 3 months and it cleared my skin up perfectly, like 100% and the acne never returned. It was truly miraculous. You can’t imagine how life-changing this was if you haven’t had this particular type of acne  

I understand you’re asking about food allergies but I would urge you, if that doesn’t work out, to talk to a dermatologist about Accutane rather than antibiotics.

My daughter had wonderful results after seeing Acne Specialists of Oakland On Piedmont Ave.

she too had been on antibiotics for longer than I liked. Their approach covers diet, lifestyle which with teens can interact a lot, but on the diet front cutting out dairy was a big start.

She really sees a difference after she eats big dairy items (ice cream is the biggest culprit) -  a few days later and like clockwork there’s another breakout. 

They also recommended cutting out/back on nuts and a few other things I can’t recall. 

Hope that’s helpful. The diet changes were less painful than she thought and not draconian. And the results are a great motivator.

good luck!

If teen is motivated, a whole 30 takes about 40 days. 30 days of clean eating with no sugar, dairy, wheat, legumes etc. Then you reintroduce items 1 at a time and gauge the reaction. So you don't eliminate one by one, but all at once.

I know of many teens whose acne completely cleared up when they stopped eating dairy.


My son also suffered from Cystic acne.  Our derm. suggested he stay away from skim and low-fat milk products in conjunction with other topical treatments. He was consistent in his routine, but it really didn't get us anywhere. Like many others have indicated, we did Accutane.  We had tons of trepidation, but he had no side effects except severe dryness. After abt. 6 mos., he was clear and has remained so to this day.  I do recommend you investigate. 

I second the poster mentioning Accutane. We were somewhat nervous about the treatment for our teenage son. The outcome was amazing, with absolutely no side effects in our case. You might want to look into it.