What is the Correlation Between Acne and Diabetes?

Woman looking at skin in mirror

Is there a correlation between Acne and diabetes? You might say no, just like many health practitioners. However, behind the scenes, researchers and doctors have been looking for a connection – and they found one.  

In the Western world, acne vulgaris affects about 85% of adolescents. It’s found in greater numbers of people in wealthy countries where a processed food diet is commonly eaten. When you look at societies that are eating a low glycemic index diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, no dairy or milk products, there’s no acne.

Diet trumps genetics when it comes to Acne. This means that just because your mom or dad had acne when they were younger, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get Acne. What you eat will determine whether or not you have Acne.

Your skin needs nutrients in order for skin cells to grow and look radiant. Some of the nutrients needed for good skin include the ones on this list below. Also included is how that nutrient affects people with diabetes.    

Pip Pen Needles


Protein contains amino acids that become proteins such as collagen and keratin. These two proteins are essential for skin that is plump and youthful-looking.


When you have enough protein in your diet, you don’t want to eat high glycemic index carbs such as processed foods. This keeps your blood sugar more stable during the day.

Essential fatty acids

These help your skin stay moist and firm. One essential fatty acid, omega three fats, are critical for your cell walls to stay strong. When cell walls are strong, then the cells prevent attacks from bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In Acne, certain bacteria have been found to be prevalent in the skin. Omega 3 fats are also great to prevent inflammation from occurring. Inflammation is a common problem with acne vulgaris.


People with diabetes often are low in essential fatty acids, which also contribute to the tendency of blood to form clots. Clots that form can cause a stroke or heart attack.

Vitamin A

This antioxidant keeps the right amount of oil in your hair follicles. A deficiency causes dry skin. Dry skin makes it easier for infectious organisms to attack the cells.


In people with diabetes, vitamin A is not as well absorbed as it is in non-diabetics. This makes people with diabetes more prone to develop infections.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is especially important for preventing free radicals from invading skin, and for the strength of the collagen proteins in the skin. It is also important for immunity, and to keep infections away from the skin.


A vitamin deficiency results in fragile capillaries that are linked to bleeding gums and bleeding capillaries within the body. These are clearly two of the common problems that people with diabetes face and contribute to a lack of circulation in the extremities.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D regulates the immune system. Without it, your skin is unable to ward off infections. People are more prone to develop diabetes if they have a vitamin D deficiency.


Vitamin E and selenium

These two nutrients work together as antioxidants that prevent UV light damage and aging. Selenium deficiency makes it more difficult for your body to process toxins. People with diabetes tend to age much faster than those without diabetes.


      8. Zinc

This mineral prevents your skin from harmful rays of the sun and accelerates healing. A zinc deficiency is often connected to the development and presence of Acne.


Zinc is part of the glucose tolerance factor that helps you regulate blood sugar. Many people with diabetes are low in zinc.


       9. Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the top minerals for keeping inflammation down. A deficiency in magnesium is often found in people with diabetes and connected to heart disease and high blood pressure.  


      10. Copper

Copper strengthens your collagen proteins in the skin. It also strengthens your arteries and prevents hardening of the arteries. People with diabetes often have a breakdown of their arterial walls, making them susceptible to high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.


Are Acne and Diabetes-Related on Another Level?


With this list, you can easily see that these ten nutrients are needed for both skin and to alleviate issues with diabetes. But is there another connection on more of a molecular or enzymatic basis? Are Acne and diabetes-related?


When your skin has Acne, it’s an early indicator of diabetes, states a dermatology professor at the University of Osnabruck in Germany. 


The key conductor of metabolism is an enzyme called the nutrient- and growth factor-sensitive kinase mTORC1. Acne skin sores and the sebaceous glands have greater amounts of this enzyme; skin that is acne-free does not have high amounts of this mTORC1. 


Increased activity in mTORC1 is a characteristic feature of insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Professor Bodo Melnik states that acne vulgaris is a family member of mTORC1-driven diseases of civilization and represents the metabolic syndrome of the sebaceous follicle. 


He found the connection between Acne and diabetes. When you see Acne, it’s a sign of diabetes to come. It means that it’s time to get your nutrition right so that the Acne doesn’t end up becoming diabetes later on.


Other skin conditions that are related to diabetes include wrinkles, rapid aging, skin cancers, and even psoriasis. Any person with diabetes is prone to develop a whole host of skin problems if the nutritional needs of that person with diabetes are not met. 


Acne and Diabetes Connection Uncovered by Lab Tests for Insulin Resistance

If you have Acne, you may have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. This is first seen with weight gain around the waistline, indicating that fat is being added on to the body around the internal organs.  

Another sign is that you crave foods even though you have just eaten a meal. Scheduling a visit to your doctor is a good strategy to find out what’s happening in your body. Are you developing insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome? Your doctor will run lab tests to determine the answer. 

 In the meantime, you can change the lifestyle habits you have that will directly contribute to better health. Acne does improves when you change your diet. 

Removing all the sugar, high fructose corn syrup foods, processed foods, packaged foods, and GMO foods like wheat, corn, and soy, as well as dairy foods will make a big difference in skin health within about 3-4 weeks. 

Test it out for yourself! See if there’s a strong connection between Acne and diabetes in your personal life.



Melnik, Bodo C. Acne vulgaris: The metabolic syndrome of the pilosebaceous follicle. Clin Dermatol Jan-Feb 2018;36(1):29-40. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29241749/?from_term=acne+diabetes&from_pos=1