Check it! Could Oily Skin be a Food Intolerance? {Health}

Have you ever had a day when your skin seem oilier than usual? Or you have an acne flare-up seemingly out of nowhere? These skin issues can come from a number of external sources, like your makeup or pollution in the air. But what about your food? Do you have an allergy to something you eat? Likely not. In fact, most people suffering from these symptoms actually have a food intolerance. These can affect you in many ways, including wreaking havoc on your skin. But don’t worry, there is a very simple way to discover whether you have a food intolerance right at home. It only takes a bit of effort, and restraint, on your part, for healthy skin and body. If you think you may have a food intolerance and want to know how to deal with it, read on!

Food Allergies vs Food Intolerances

If you think what you’re eating is part of your skin issues, it is most likely a food intolerance, not an allergy. This is because these two issues affect you in different ways.

Food Allergies

Food allergies can be mild to extremely dangerous. But they are very rare in our population. They happen when your immune system overreacts to certain foods you’ve eaten. It thinks this food is some type of harmful invader, which triggers an immediate response. The immune cells release antibodies and histamines to fight off this mistaken intruder. Every time you eat this food, the reaction happens, causing a variety of symptoms.

If you are in the throes of an allergic reaction, there are many symptoms you may deal with. Some of these are mild, but there are severe ones that could lead to death if left untreated. These symptoms could include:

  •         Nausea
  •         Vomiting
  •         Diarrhea
  • diarrhea        Anxiety
  •         Fatigue
  •         Rashes
  •         Hives
  •         Itching
  •         Eczema
  •         Dermatitis
  •         Redness
  •         Inflammation
  •         Trouble breathing
  •         Chest pains
  •         Anaphylaxis

You may experience only a few or many of these symptoms during an allergic reaction. Even if the symptoms are mild, you should seek medical attention. 

Food Intolerances

A food intolerance is a different type of reaction, though with some similar symptoms. An intolerance happens when your body can’t break down or metabolize certain foods. Instead of the immune system, it affects the digestive system. You may notice the symptoms a few hours after eating but may not have any for a few days. The amount you eat also factors in. If you are intolerant to a certain food, but only eat a little bit, it may not affect you at all. But having a larger portion could lead to discomfort. Because these symptoms take time to develop, it may be harder to figure out the cause of your issues. You may need to try to remember what you ate for the last few days to even narrow down the cause.

Some of the symptoms of a food intolerance are the same as those of an allergy. But there are a few others that you should also watch for. Thankfully, there are there is no life-threatening food intolerances, only uncomfortable ones. Watch for any of the following:

  •         Nausea
  • fatigue        Vomiting
  •         Diarrhea
  •         Fatigue
  •         Anxiety
  •         Acne
  •         Inflammation
  •         Skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, rosacea)
  •         Rashes
  •         Redness
  •         Dry skin
  •         Gas
  •         Cramping
  •         Bloating
  •         Headaches or Migraines
  •         Difficulty losing or gaining weight
  • mood-swings        Heartburn
  •         Irritability
  •         Mood swings
  •         Painful joints or muscles
  •         Difficulty concentrating
  •         Ear infections

As you can see, there are a few similar symptoms of food allergies and food intolerances. Many of the intolerance symptoms affect the skin, which may relate to your oily skin issues. Acne for sure relates to oily skin since excess oil can get trapped in pores, along with other bacteria. The foods causing these reactions can also contribute to oily skin and its problems.

Foods that Your Affect Skin

If your food intolerance is affecting your skin, there are a few likely sources. Though they don’t seem related, gut health can affect your skin. If your gut is damaged, food intolerances can aggravate it further. This will irritate it, preventing it from healing. This will then allow inflammation to spread through your entire body. Some foods are common when it comes to food intolerance. Dairy is the most dairycommon, as those with lactose issues can tell you.

Celiac disease is a gluten allergy, but many without this issue can still be intolerant to wheat. All grains can actually cause issues in some people. Egg whites, nuts, and soybeans also make this list. Sugar should also be avoided since it can raise your blood sugar levels and increase insulin. This leads to acne. Though not as common, there are a few others to track if the foods listed above aren’t the causes of your symptoms. Nightshades are known to increase inflammation, so they may be the source of your problem. These can include potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, tomatillos, and a variety of peppers. Pepinos, pimentos, and paprika are also nightshades to watch for.

Foods that contain histamines could also be part of the problem. Some foods contain histamines, while others produce it during the fermentation process. The former includes things like avocados, eggplant, mushrooms, and spinach. Beer, wine, yogurt, sour cream, and processed meats fit into the latter category. These can be added to your list of foods to test for. 

Testing for Food Intolerance

Some may claim that tests for allergies will also help figure out your food intolerances as well. But this isn’t the case. When testing for food allergies, there are a few ways to do it. You can do a skin prick test, which includes scratching the allergens into the skin. The Intradermal test is similar, with the allergen injected into the skin. Another option is Immunological testing. With these, blood is drawn and then exposed to the allergens. This then determines the way the body will react to it.

Though excellent for food allergy detection, not one of these is a good food intolerance test. The only sure way to figure out which foods are causing your skin and health issues is the Elimination Diet. This kind of test is easy to do at home, though it takes a bit of time to figure out which foods are causing your problems. 

How to Do an Elimination Diet

The symptoms plaguing you hours or days after eating can be easily avoided using this method. The elimination diet is easy to follow, as long as you’re diligent and watch what you’re eating.

What You Need:

  • A food diary
  • A pen
  • A food list

The Elimination Diet Method

Step #1: Track Your Food


For one to two weeks, write down everything you eat in your food diary. This means meals, snacks, and drinks, except for water. Any negative reactions you experience should be included. Add the date and time to every entry so you can be sure your information is accurate.

Step #2: Examine the Data

examine the data

Keeping in mind that symptoms will occur within 72 hours, read the data you’ve collected. This will give you the food list you need in order to create your test. Even if you are unsure if a food should be on your list, add it in. This will ensure you have a thorough list to go by.

Step #3: Eliminate Those Foods


For the next three weeks, avoid the problem foods on your list. Instead, eat healthy options, such as lean meats, and fruits and vegetables. Drink water, unless no other beverages have been added to your food list. In this time, your chronic inflammation and skin problems should clear up. If not, you may have missed something, so spend the next week adding to your food diary to figure out which bad one is left.

Step #4: Reintroduce Those Foods


Pick one of the foods on your food list and add it back into your diet. Eat this food for three days, adding a small amount to your diet the first day. Mark down any symptoms in your food diary. Then add a bit more the second day and the largest portion on the third day. If you notice any symptoms during that time, note this and remove that food from your diet again. This will ensure you don’t confuse those symptoms with ones caused by another food. Then introduce the next food item on your list. Be sure to just add one at a time for the most accurate results.

Step #5: Avoid Those Foods


Once you’ve tested every item on your list, you have an accurate account of your food intolerances. Remove those foods from your diet for the next three months. Since food intolerances can change at any time, you may be able to reintroduce them again at a later date. Follow the three-day method again when it comes time to try out eating a food that caused you issues in the past.

Could Oily Skin be a Food Intolerance Final Thoughts

Oily skin can be a symptom of a larger issue, but it rarely presents on its own. Acne, skin disorders, and rashes usually accompany it, so oily skin alone may not be what draws your eye. But you can help treat your issues by avoiding foods that cause your discomfort in the first place. Your skin will clear up and you’ll feel better on the inside as well. If you’ve been tested for food intolerance due to oily skin or other issues, what kind of test did you use? If you are looking for more hair care articles check out our hair care buyer’s guides.


  • Annmarie: Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerance: How to Investigate Your Symptoms
  • Acne Einstein: Simple Way to Identify Hidden Food Intolerances That Wreck Your Skin