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Do Chips Cause Acne?

author image Bridget Coila
Bridget Coila specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Her articles have appeared in Oxygen, American Fitness and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.
Do Chips Cause Acne?
A bowl of potato chips with dill. Photo Credit ff-photo/iStock/Getty Images

Acne, otherwise known as pimples, blackheads, whiteheads or simply zits, are the bane of teenagers the world over, although people of any age can develop acne. While many foods have been cited as a potential cause of breakouts, little evidence exists to support this idea. Chips are one food often implicated as being bad for the skin, perhaps unfairly so.


Acne can appear anywhere on the body that contains oil glands, but the face, chest, back and shoulders are the most common locations for pimples to develop. No one knows the exact cause of acne, but genetic factors leading to an overproduction of oil and poor removal of dead skin cells and debris on the surface of the skin likely contribute to the development of blemishes. Individuals who develop severe acne may also be more prone to infection with the bacteria that cause blemishes to develop on the skin. Acne can leave scars even after the blemishes are long gone and often causes emotional distress for the afflicted individual.

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Chips and High-Fat Foods

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, no clear link exists between chips or other high-fat, high-salt foods and acne. The only food group found to potentially have an association with acne development is dairy, and even this link is under debate. However, according to Science Daily, some people who already have acne may notice an increase in symptoms when they eat certain foods, such as chips. Of course, touching your face with oily fingers after consuming chips could leave a residue on your face that blocks pores, feeds bacteria and contributes to acne.

Genetic Impact

Whether or not a person's acne gets worse after eating chips may have something to do with their genetics. There is a known hereditary link to acne, according to Brown University, with severe breakouts often have a parent who went through the same thing. So although chips have not been shown to definitively cause acne, there may be people with a genetic makeup that makes them more susceptible to active breakouts when they eat high-fat or high-sodium foods. However, even if this is the case, stopping chip consumption is no guarantee that acne will disappear.


Some of the anecdotal link between acne and eating certain foods may actually be because there is a similar environmental cause. Acne often appears when people are under a lot of stress, which also tends to be a trigger for eating high-fat and high-salt foods, like chips. Thus, the correlation between acne and chips that many people suspect exists may actually be because both chip eating and acne stem from stress, not one from the other.

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