Can Acid Reflux Cause Acne? Surprising Link Revaleded (2023)

Acne is a medical condition in which clogged hair follicles cause skin rashes, pimples, and skin irritation on the surface of your skin. This can happen due to dead skin, bad bacteria, and oil-blocking pores.

Did you know that acne is one of the most common skin issues in the United States and affects over 50 million people annually? Let’s discuss if a digestive problem such as acid reflux can cause acne.

This article answers the question: Can acid reflux cause acne?

Can Acid Reflux Cause Acne?

a persons forehead with severe acne

Yes. Unfortunately, acid reflux can cause acne. When there are not enough acids in your stomach, the digestive process hinders and keeps food particles from getting processed properly. Stomach contents then catch bacteria and enter your bloodstream. This systematic malfunction causes your skin to outbreak into acne and rashes.

Read also: Are Berries Good For Acid Reflux? The Surprising Answer

What’s The Connection Between Acid Reflux and Acne?

can acid reflux cause acne

The main thing that links acid reflux to acne is your gut. Please take a look below to learn how it works.

Acid Reflux And Gut Health – Connection Explained

A healthy gut is one of the main digestive organs. Its functions include motility, digestion, absorption, and secretion, which means it is a major part of your digestive system, and closely related to acid reflux.

As you may know, acid reflux/ gastroesophageal reflux disease happens when a muscle named the lower esophageal sphincter malfunctions and allows stomach acids to leak into your esophagus.

A common misconception is that acid reflux only happens due to excess stomach acid. What most people don’t know is that it can also occur due to low stomach acid levels.

You must be wondering how that’s possible. If the acid level is already low, how come you have a leaky gut? Well, the digestive system works in an interconnected way. When swallowed food substances enter your stomach through the food pipe, the abundant acids instantly signal to your brain and force the muscle’s opening shut, which causes swallowed food contents to get sealed inside.

So when there is a lack of stomach acid, the valve remains open and provides stomach contents an unguarded route to the digestive tract.

The entire digestive system gets affected when the above-listed scenario occurs in your body. As a side effect, your gut loses its ability to break down food particles properly. This link connects acid reflux with acne and other skin conditions.

Gut Health And Acne

a man with a blue t-shirt holding a picture of the gut in front of him

If you are thinking about how an acid-infected gut can be the root cause of your acne? Then the answer is quite simple.

Bacteria are essential for your body to function properly, and there is a healthy balance between beneficial and bad bacteria in your stomach. Hydrochloric acid in gastric juice is responsible for splitting digestive enzymes into proteins and killing the unfriendly bacteria mentioned above. When stomach acid levels are low, so is hydrochloric acid. This means the bad bacteria count increases in your gut, and the barriers become more permeable.

When your gut barriers are weak or damaged, unwanted compounds also get a chance to enter your bloodstream. Since the lack of hydrochloric acid hinders the gut’s ability to break down the food particles properly, your body finds other ways to eliminate these compounds. Some will be eliminated through urine, while others will use your skin’s oil glands as an outlet. This causes acne breakouts and allergic reactions on your skin.

Allergies And Skin inflammation 

forearm with skin inflammation

Your immune system gets instantly triggered when you eat food your body is allergic to. If your gut is already damaged because of acid reflux, a burning sensation will cause the gut lining to inflame further. 

Usually, a healthy gut barrier would not have let molecules pass by. Still, in your case, the gut’s integrity and strength are weak, so when you eat allergy-causing foods, your gut will be affected badly, and various types of acne-causing bacteria will enter your bloodstream and trigger outbreaks.

Other potential reasons for gut inflammation may be:

  1. Chronic stress
  2. Nutrient deficiencies
  3. Irritable bowel syndrome
  4. Gut dysbiosis
  5. IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

How To Test If Your Stomach Acids Are Low? Step-by-step Guide

a glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda
  1. Make a solution by mixing ¼ (quarter) teaspoon of baking soda into 4-8 ounces of cold water.
  2. Set a timer and drink the solution
  3. If a burp doesn’t occur within 5 minutes of drinking the solution, that is a clear indication of low acid levels.

Caution: make sure to try this trick on an empty stomach

How To Prevent Acne Caused By Acid Reflux?

Be it GERD or something else, the best treatment to get rid of acne would be to treat the underlying cause. However, on a short-term basis, several effective precautions and lifestyle changes guarantee a reduction in acne. 

Dietary Changes

a notebook with a nutrition plan

It is advised to stay away from high-fat and processed food. These foods are difficult for your system to process, and considering your gut is already infected, the entire digestive process will be prolonged.

Undigested foods will be forced to ferment further down in the digestive tract and ultimately destroy your gut barrier.

Steer clear of other GERD triggers such as fatty foods, spicy foods, fast food, dairy products, and citrus fruits to ensure good health of your entire body

Precautionary Solutions

a smiling female doctor

Acid reflux affects each person differently. For instance, some things trigger your friend’s reflux but don’t cause any noticeable changes in your body. This complicates your diet plan, but the good news is that we have a great solution for you.

  1. Keep a food diary and track all the foods/ liquids that trigger your symptoms of acid reflux. Most GERD patients keep a diary so they can abstain from their triggers. You can use it to track your food allergies as well.
  2. You can also follow an elimination diet. It is a practice in which all major triggers, such as eggs, milk, butter, etc., are eliminated wholly from the diet. After a short period of time, you gradually start introducing them back and note which substance is causing adverse effects.

As discussed above, your gut can be inflamed by allergic substances if you wish to resolve that problem. Get allergy tests from your nearby clinic.

All these steps are important. After all, as long as you don’t know which foods are causing you trouble, you won’t be able to plan a gerd- friendly diet.


Once you treat your acid reflux-induced acne properly, there are 3 different ways you can go about it. Your first option would be to take over-the-counter medicines for the root cause (acid reflux).

Secondly, medicines for the thing that connects them (gut health), and lastly, you can treat the problem itself (skin acne)

Caution: only a doctor can guide you with the most suitable option.

Root problemMedicine
Acid refluxProton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole or h2 blockers such as Pepcid.
Gut healthHydrochloric acid (HCl supplements) to regain the balance of gut bacteria
Skin acneSkincare products, topical creams, and face masks

Can Acid Reflux Cause Acne Summary

In this article, we comprehensively discussed the question: can acid reflux cause acne? We talked about their standard links and relationships with one another. We have shared some of the most helpful and effective treatments for mild trouble, so follow them for acne prevention.

It is always recommended to seek professional medical advice if your symptoms are intense. The above-listed may not work in extreme cases such as cystic acne. In that case, a dermatologist is the best option. 

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