How Adult Acne and Diabetes Are Connected

October 29, 2018 3 min read 0 Comments

How Adult Acne and Diabetes Are Connected

By: Samantha Rizzo


Acne isn’t a problem of dirty skin and junk food, it’s a complex, multi-faceted skin condition with many variables.

Each person who is affected by acne is a little different than the next, but many of us share some common underlying causes.

When discussing teenage acne, the cause is usually pretty obvious: changing sex hormones coupled with the body’s interaction with its environment. But when adult acne is the issue, the causes aren’t always so obvious.

One thing is for certain, as we age, adult acne becomes more of a concern.



Men and women who have adult acne are more likely to suffer from something called insulin resistance, as well as a higher fasting glucose level.

Consequently, these are also signs of pre-diabetes.

Although the connection between acne and diabetes may not be so clear, it becomes easier to understand once we look at the causes of each.

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to transform glucose into energy. This either occurs because the body doesn’t produce enough insulin (type 1) or because the process isn’t functioning properly (type 2). The body’s blood sugar becomes high, and cannot process it.

But what does all of this have to do with acne? It turns out, insulin also plays an important role in acne and skin health.

A diet or lifestyle that increases the body’s insulin response can lead to hormonal changes in the body, which can then appear on the skin. These can take the form of acne pimples, as well as rashes and dryness.

Given this connection, and the fact that one third of all diabetes have acne, many doctors are worrying that adult acne could be an early warning sign for diabetes.


Acne alone is not enough to suggest that diabetes or hyperinsulinemia are the cause. Several other symptoms must be present, and hyperinsulinemia is simple to diagnose by your doctor.

Your issue may be acne and diabetes if:

⦁ You eat a diet high in sugar, salt, and processed foods
⦁ You have stubborn, resistant adult acne
⦁ You have acne that seems to improve with dietary intervention
⦁ You have very dry skin
⦁ You have high blood sugar
⦁ You have skin that takes a long time to heal
⦁ You are prone to skin infections

If you’re nodding your head to several of these, see your doctor for an appropriate evaluation.


People with prediabetes and diabetes who have acne often have a hard time getting it under control, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do.

For both acne and diabetes, doctors primarily recommend a major dietary shift. This often means following a low-glycemic diet, which has been shown to have small but clinically significant effects on blood sugar and the skin.

This also means reducing consumption of refined carbs and processed foods, and eating a diet high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble).

Being active on a regular basis and increasing water consumption are both important for acne and diabetes, as well as reducing abdominal fat.

If you have adult acne it doesn’t mean you have prediabetes or diabetes. However, if you have other concerning symptoms of comorbidity, it will be important to address the underlying cause of the issue if you want clear skin.

Have you ever experience acne and diabetes? What did you do? Let us know below!