Iodine and acne

Is there a connection?

Although it's not 100% accepted as gospel, there is a theory that iodine is a factor in people who are prone to acne. Iodine is found in seafoods and many other, commonly-eaten foods. In those who are sensitive to iodine, consuming these foods may lead to an acne flare-up.

Excess iodine is excreted through the body's oil glands. As it is excreted, says James E. Fulton, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., iodine irritates the pores of the skin. And that means inflammation, red bumps, and a bad day.

"Iodine is a factor in some people who are prone to acne," Dr. Fulton says. And he goes on to warn us that, "Excessive long-term ingestion [of iodine-rich foods] can lead to an acne attack."

If your acne seems to be related to food consumption, perhaps you're sensitive to iodine. Below is a list of foods and beverages and the amount (in parts per million) of the iodine compounds they contain. Try avoiding the foods that have a higher concentration of iodine to see if it makes a difference in your acne.

If you've been fishing around for a clue to the cause of your acne, here's a table of acne-causing foods and beverages and the amount, in parts per million, of iodides that they contain.

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Foods and Iodine Concentrations (PPM)

Dairy Products

Cheddar cheese spread 27

Butter 26

Homogenized Milk 11

Sour cream 7

Cottage cheese 5

Yogurt 3


Drinking water (U.S. average) 8

Coca-Cola 3

Meat and Poultry

Beef liver 325

Turkey 132

Chicken 67

Hamburger 44

Starchy foods

Tortilla chips 80

Wheat germ 46

Potato chips 40

Pretzels 15

White bread 8

Sugar 2


Iodized 54

Seasoned 40


Kelp 1,020

Squid 39

Crab 33

Sole 24

Clams 20

Shrimp 17

Lobster 9

Oysters 8


Asparagus 169

Broccoli 90

Onions (white) 82

Corn 45

Brussels sprouts 23

Potato 9

Green beans 7

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