Can Beer cause Acne?

Ever been too shy to ask your doctor a question? During Acne Awareness Month, September 2021, dermatologists with the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada (ARSC) have some answers about acne for you.

Can Beer Cause Acne?

Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto Dermatologist and ARSC Medical Committee member:

“While there is no direct link between drinking alcohol and developing acne, it appears that acne may be aggravated by excess alcohol intake in adults. Alcohol, including beer, is inflammatory and dehydrating. When skin is dry, oil glands produce more oil.

As well, alcohol suppresses the immune system and can variably affect hormonal levels too. Hormones influence the oil glands.

It is also known that low glycemic diets appear to help some people with acne, and alcohol reduction is key to a low glycemic diet.

In addition, when people drink, it negatively impacts sleep quality, they make poor food quality choices and may forget to remove makeup (“skin care regimen neglect”) before bed!

Main takeaway: As with all things in life, moderation is key. If you have acne, consider reducing your alcohol intake for 3 months to see if it helps.”

Why do I have acne on my butt?

Dr. Catherine Zip, Calgary dermatologist and ARSC Medical Committee member:

“The short answer is that you very likely don’t.

Red bumps on the buttocks, dubbed “buttne”, is rarely the true acne that is seen on the face, chest and back. Whereas acne begins as a buildup of oil and skin cells within follicles, leading to bacterial overgrowth and inflammation, fewer oil glands exist on the buttocks to promote development of acne.

Acne-like bumps on the buttocks are most commonly due to folliculitis, which is inflammation of hair follicles. And what triggers this inflammation? The underlying cause is damage to hair follicles, which can allow bacteria, yeast or fungus to enter and infect the skin.

Folliculitis of the buttocks may be on the rise because of the popularity of tight-fitting clothing made out of nonbreathable material, such as nylon or polyester. The friction between tighter clothing and the skin can irritate hair follicles, especially when you work out and sweat.

Main takeaway: What looks like acne on the buttocks is most likely folliculitis.”

How do birth control pills affect acne?

Dr. Marcie Ulmer, Vancouver dermatologist and ARSC Medical Committee member:

The birth control pill can be very effective at treating acne in females. Women who develop acne along the lower face, jawline, and upper neck and report their acne flaring around the time of their menstrual period are often diagnosed with what is termed hormonal acne.

It is important to note that all acne is actually linked to hormones as hormones stimulate the oil glands in the skin. Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle cause changes in the skin resulting in pimples every month in women with hormonal acne. This type of acne can be more difficult to treat with traditional acne therapies and often responds well to hormone treatment such as the birth control pill.

Like other acne treatments it takes time to see improvement in the acne after starting a birth control pill (typically a few months). The birth control pill is most often used in combination with traditional acne therapies such as topical retinoids and is sometimes prescribed with other oral therapies such as oral retinoids (isotretinoin), antibiotics or another hormonal therapy called spironolactone.

For women requiring a method of birth control AND acne treatment, the birth control pill is one treatment that can work simultaneously for both.

Main takeaway: The birth control pill can be a very effective treatment option in women with acne and especially if the acne is on the lower face, jawline and neck or if the acne flares with menstrual periods. If you are a woman with hormonal acne (especially if you also need of a form of birth control), consider talking to your doctor about treatment options to see if the birth control pill may be the right treatment for you.

During Acne Awareness Month, September 2021, Canadians are encouraged to learn about acne by visiting, a bilingual website of the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada, a not for profit organization led by Canadian dermatologists.

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