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Could High Histamine Foods Cause Cystic Like Acne?

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As some of you know I have been struggling lately with cystic like flare-ups despite strictly following my prescribed allergy + suppliment diet and acne meds (...very depressing...). I can have clear skin in the morning and by evening get a big red inflamed itchy lump that is like a cyst but different...it will often come to a head in the next day or two. These "cysts" are very swollen...and I often have felt they are like an allergic reaction because they are so itchy! I don't get acne anywhere else and they happen on my chin where the skin is already red. This may be a patch of rosacea hence my derm prescribed Oracea. But the flare-ups keep on happening.

I just happened to look on the Oracea site last night and under "triggers" it listed foods to avoid that I have been eating daily!!! Spinach and avocado. High histamine foods can trigger rosacea which can manifest as inflamed papules and pustules. This led me to google high histamine foods...many of which are often listed in anti-acne diets and I am allergic to. Check it out.

High histamine foods differ from allergy foods in that you can be tested for allergies but high histamine foods won't show up. They are something different. Also some people are lacking in sufficient DOA enzyme. This enzyme helps metabolize histamine so that it doesn't negatively affect the body. Plus there are foods that naturally block DOA and if you already possibly lack DOA then any histamine you eat goes straight into the body causing havoc. A common DOA enzyme blocking food is green tea!

I started drinking green tea daily thinking it helped acne --- along with eating lots of high histamine foods. Could this be triggering my flare-ups?

So then I read a bunch of research articles all pointing to this...but not yet making the connection to chronic resistant adult acne. They've made the connection to rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis but not to inflammatory acne.

I think chronic resistant inflammatory adult acne that flares and resides and keeps on despite all kinds of treatment may be something else! Such skin responds to having pores unplugged by acne meds but not eneough to compensate for the congestion from histamines...so some of the pores become plugged up anyway and the skin continues to break out. Histamine also causes increase in sebum production due to irritation. It affects hormones. What we may be struggling with is just another way the body is having a histamine reaction...milder than some other reactions, yes, but still a reaction.

I think key questions to ask are does your acne itch? Do the lesions all of a sudden swell up? Does there seem to be a food connection?

I am beginning to think that what many of us suffer with is more like the papular-pustular form of rosacea...but different. We may get patches of redness but not the usual butterfly redness on the cheeks. We get a more inflammatory response that manifests like cysts.

I'm going to try avoiding high histamine foods, along with DOA enzyme inhibiting foods and see if it makes a difference. A couple of the research articles I read said that what makes this so hard to diagnose is that reactions are so individualized and usually happen due to increasing amounts of high histamine foods being ingested over time. Very hard to track. The only way to see if there is a connection is to avoid the foods and see what happens. And this is hard to do!

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Wow this is very interesting, I had the biggest breakout of my life at the beginning of last year when I started eating a lot of avocados and coconut oil, oh also I was drinking a lot of green tea!!!!!. I didn't really know what could have caused it but I saw a relation with it and stopped eating avocados and very little coconut oil and has never had that break out again.

So you have an idea of the papules I got here is a pic, this is the worse my skin has ever been, the spots were very itchy indeed, I don't get cysts, but I do get red spots may be like eczema like and the small papules and whiteheads on forehead sometimes. I think it does look rosacea like, I get very red when I drink red wine as well

I wonder now if I'm still eating triggering foods for me, because I do get still get some spots sometimes, very little ones now but usually my complexion is kind of blotchy.

This is the pic from biggest break out and I was eating very very healthy.



Edited by Luisa
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Yes --- that's what my bumps look like...very red, swollen, inflammed, and mine are usually infected as well --- yuck! You're so lucky it has only happened like that once for you. I've been dealing with this for decades. I also get a very red nose if I drink any alcohol, especially red wine. Same thing happens if I eat vinegar...immediate reaction!

Histamine intolerance operates a little differently than food allergies in that it takes eating the same thing over and over or in sufficient quantity for a person's individual limit to be met and then a reaction occurs. This may explain why people wonder how they can eat something without a reaction and then whammo their skin breaks out.

Here is a quote from an article I was reading that might be interesting...


A histamine intolerance occurs when the enzyme Diamine Oxidase (DAO) is inhibited or deficient, and has trouble breaking down the histamine in foods. The DAO enzyme is responsible for the break down of histamine in the body, ensuring excess histamine is flushed – without it your body builds up an unhealthy amount of histamine, which can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms after consuming foods that are high in histamine. These foods can include:

· Some fish such as: Tuna, Sardines, Mackerel and Herring

· Some cheeses such as: Emmental cheese, Parmesan, Gouda and Gorgonzola

· Some vegetables such as: Spinach, Eggplant and Avocados

· Processed meats such as: Salami, Ham, Sausages and cold cuts

· Wine (in particular red wine), Sparkling wine, Champagne, Dessert wines

· Beer (in particular wheat beer)

· Balsamic vinegar

There are also several foodstuffs that release histamine into the body. These include: alcohol, bananas, nuts, chocolate and cocoa, wheat germ, black and green tea, eggs, strawberries, pineapples, kiwifruit, papaya, raspberries, pears, tomatoes, citrus fruits, pulses.

If one or more of these foodstuffs tend to trigger typical symptoms, you may have a histamine intolerance.

Here is another article...


Many people suffer from gastro-intestinal disorders, migraine, headache, skin problems, cardiovascular complaints and asthma that are due to histamine intolerance.

Diamine oxidase, in short DAO, is the enzyme responsible for the degradation of histamine. An activity deficit of the enzyme results in an accumulation of histamine with corresponding, partially severe symptoms. It is often difficult to distinguish between an immediate allergy (type 1), type-III allergy or histamine intolerance since the symptoms often are identical.

If no improvement occurs despite a change in diet according to IgE and / or IgG measurements, a test for histamine intolerance is strongly recommended.

There may be several causes of histamine intolerance. They include, among other causes, vitamin B6 or copper deficiency and a possibly associated limited production of diamine oxidase (DAO). When foodstuffs rich in histamine are consumed, the symptoms described above occur. Intestinal complaints, like e.g. inflammatory intestinal disease or excessive histamine production by putrefactive intestinal bacteria may cause the problems as well. Not only the insufficient production of the enzyme diamine oxidase or increased histamine concentration, but also the inhibition of the enzyme causes histamine intolerance. Possible potent inhibitors of DAO are in particular alcohol, but also some common drugs, including especially antirheumatic agents, that is anti-inflammatory and pain relieving drugs.

It is often difficult to distinguish between an immediate IgE allergy (type 1), an IgG food allergy (type 3) or a histamine intolerance since the symptoms often are identical.

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I know those were very painful and stressing bumps wow, I thought my acne had gotten so worse all of a sudden!.

I'm thinking of doing another elimination diet but after I come back from my vacations. I'm currently taking vitamin b6 in the form of p-5-p 50mg. My bumps got better after two months of this, I was getting bigger ones on my forehead at some times of my cycle.

Now I get really small ones that heal pretty quick, but my complexion is still kind of red and a bit blotchy, specially around nose and I'm very gentle with my skin. I'm really thinking the avocados were causing me some reaction but like you said not immediate I was eating them for like a month when I started getting these huge bumps. May be I have some reaction to tomatoes as well which I eat pretty often yikes and coffee sad.png, I'm going to have to try to eliminate these things and see how it goes.

Interesting about the copper levels, for me zinc doesn't seem to help at all, in fact when I was taking it before I think my acne got a bit worse, any ways I didn't take it long enough because I started getting some pain on legs, weird. Any ways my point on this is that copper and zinc are antagonist.

Edited by Luisa
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I wish I could but I have a bad reaction to anti-histamine medications...they make me hyper. So for now I'll have to just try eating low histamine foods and see if it makes a difference or not.

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How is it going with the elimination diet? I haven't touched an avocado in a while and coconut oil I keep it to a minimum, but I'm still eating other things like tomatoes..

I'm still getting very some small ones from time to time though but the reddish complexion and super sensitive skin is very annoying. I have an appointment with a derm at the end of this month. I will see if he diagnose me with rosacea or not, I have some small visible spider veins on the sides of my nose :(.

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Sounds like a good thing to check out given your symptoms! I am doing a bit better. Had another outbreak over the weekend (sigh)...a whopper of a cyst or something...not sure what it was but it was very red, swollen and infected. It came to a head within a day and now two days later looks almost healed. Just some discoloration. So wasn't a cyst really. I took a picture this time to show my derm who I am seeing tomorrow because by the time I get in to see him my outbreaks are often healing and I'm sure he wonders why all the complaining. I get a whopper, then heal, then have clear skin for a week or so and then swell up again with just 1-2 things. Very strange.

Today I got some test results and my doc says I have an overgrowth of bad bacteria, an undergrowth of good bacteria and a fungal infection. So he is putting me on Bactrim and Nystatin. Bactrim is the very same antibiotic that my old derm prescribed and that I took for years --- it's the only antibiotic that calms my skin down! Maybe I was just keeping that bad bacteria at bay all these years when I took Bactrim for flare-ups. My regular doc firmly believes my problem is with my gut and not my skin...although the facial skin is where I happen to suffer from the inflammation. He thinks that if we can get the gut healed the skin will follow. He may be right.

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