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Two Birds One Stone: Cure Acne With Allergy Treaments?

Updated on March 17, 2011

One of the hubbers posted the comment below on my hub “Cure Acne today!”:

“My one daughter suffered with acne. You mention a few things we had not considered. Meanwhile she developed a severe dust allergy. Since she started treatment against this allergy, her acne disappeared, completely. Would love to hear your opinion of this.”

As a clinical pharmacist, this was something that really piqued my interest.  So I started to answer the question and realized it was a fascinating topic worthy on its own. So the following are my theories to this proposition. Allergies and Acne, how much are they interrelated?

Coincidence? I know it’s a boring answer but it is a possibility so I’ve got to put it forth. Not the only possibility, but one of the possibilities as to why or how active acne would appear to resolve on its own when an allergy is treated successfully. There could have been other things going on at the time in her life that affected the acne. Did she start menstruation? It can translate to hormonal changes that could clear up the skin though it is not always the case. Were there stress factors from her life that were removed? Stress does aggravate acne so reducing stress can improve acne. Maybe the allergy treatment had not much to do with it.

However, this intriguing question, I believe, is definitely worthy of more thought out theories. 

Sometimes allergies can worsen acne.  That is, some of the symptoms of allergies include: runny nose, sneezing, rash, teary eyes, fatigue, irritability, itchy eyes, nose, and skin.  This list reads like “how to worsen your acne”.  Sneezing, runny nose, teary eyes, itchy eyes, nose and skin all make you touch your face more than usual.  You’re likely to also scratch your skin.  You’re depositing bacteria from your hands onto your face and skin in other areas as well as from one part of the body to another to the face, etc.  Increased bacteria and cross-contamination between different parts of the body can mean worsened acne.  If you have a rash, of course, you’re also scratching, so really the same effect and let’s face it, we all end up scratching a little no matter how much our moms have told us to leave it alone.  Allergies can also cause fatigue and irritability.  You may not sleep well with all the allergy symptoms.  Allergies themselves are stress-inducers.  You’re itching, you’re sneezing, you’re not sleeping well, nor can you concentrate with all that bothers you.  The end result: possibility of more acne.  So when the allergy is treated, the effective allergy treatment could have led to reduced triggers for acne.

It’s also conceivable, depending on the timeline, that what was thought to be acne was never acne at all.  Allergic rash could have been mistakenly thought of as acne.  Some of the hives can present raised and red mimicking fully inflamed acne.  I don’t believe it is the most likely scenario but many skin conditions including acne and allergic rash are mistaken for something else many times.  Only when a prescribed treatment fails or worsens the condition do other diagnoses get explored sometimes.

The theory I find more fascinating would be that the allergy treatment itself served as acne treatment.

Anti-histamines are widely used to treat different types of allergies. While I don’t believe anyone could really claim anti-histamines can cure acne, there have been some small studies done as well as theories out there in the scientific community that postulates they may serve as an adjunct treatment to conventional cures for acne. In my hub “Cure Acne today!” I discuss that the overproduction of oil can lead to acne. The sebocytes, the major cells responsible for producing oil to keep skin lubricated have been found to have histamine-1 receptors on them. It has been posited that blocking these receptors on the sebocytes may lead to decreased production of oil possibly resulting in reduced acne.

Singulair is another interesting medication often used as a part of the treatment regimen for allergies. It is a selective leukotriene receptor antagonist that inhibits the cysteinyl leukotriene CysLT1 receptor. The inflammation of the acne is mediated by the release of leukotrienes and histamines. Then logic follows that introduction of anti-leukotrienes and/or anti-histamines can aide in preventing acne as well as reducing inflammation of the existing acne. This of course, is a theory with teeth if you ask me and supports the role of anti-histamines as well as anti-leukotrienes.

Of course, these are just theories. There are not enough solid studies to support the use of either anti-histamines or anti-leukotrienes to fully claim them as cure for acne. However, much like advances in anything else, sometimes these theories that are put forth are what give birth to experimenting with the possibilities. Sometimes medications are approved for an additional indication, years after first being marketed for one indication because post market studies may show promise for some other condition. After all, Viagra came about that way.

It is important to note that our bodies are not a collection of closed systems but very sophisticated systems working in harmony affecting each other in sometimes mysterious ways that we are yet to understand. Treating the body for one condition such as allergies may in fact benefit in treating another condition such as acne. Worsening of one condition may worsen another. Health, after all, is a whole body experience. Treat your body right and it will reward you with health which will help lead you to happiness and even wealth. But I guess that is another hub altogether.


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    • profile image

      Doris R 

      3 years ago

      Last month I went to see my doctor for a sore throat she immediately asked about allergies and she found fluid behind my ears, inflame nasal passages and quickly told me to take an over the counter drug for allergies and then she said, "it will clear up your face too". My acne was severe that day, despite my low dose and topical antibiotics I take for it my acne it was out of control. So I have been taking an allergy medication and after a couple of weeks it really clear up my acne. I haven't had a breakout for a while and that is very unusual for me. I have struggled with acne for more then 13 years.

      I am a nursing student, we study pharmacology but acne and anti allergy meds were never mention together, but my doctor knew about it. Make sure you check w your doctor before starting any treatment. Better safe than sorry!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      My allergologist actually told me the shots I am currently on would help with acne, and actually that's the only reason he prescribed them to me, i've tried contraception pills and dermatologist treatments before without much change and this is the clearest my face has been, it is seriously unbelivavble.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      My allergist and his bevy of nurses all looked at me like I was from Mars when I came in today and asked if the allergy shots I'm receiving could be contributing to break outs on my skin all over my body. I was told the shots were "definitively NOT" related in any way. Your idea about the sebocytes and the cause and effect relationship between oil production and the introduction or removal of histamine is a Godsend. I'm going to print this page and walk in with it at my next appointment. Thank you for giving me hope I'm not crazy!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I am 38 and I've been taking fluticasone propionate for allergies for about 9 years. I've noticed repeatedly (upwards of 15 times) a correlation between taking the steroid and clear skin. With a background in science, I thought it would be fun to design a little ABAB experiment. There's definitely a strong association between the clarity of my skin and the steroid. Thanks for giving me an explanation as to why.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I've been taking Allegra D on and off for a little over a month now and have noticed my acne clears up every time I take it. When I run out due to it only being sold in packs of 10 tablets where I purchase it, I break out until I get more to continue it. I'm twenty years old and have struggled with acne since I was about eleven. This has been the most promising "treatment" yet, even though I am actually taking the medicine for allergies.

    • profile image

      Kristen B 

      4 years ago

      I took allergy shots for 7 years and recently moved to a new city (7 mos ago) and have not taken the shots since moving. I have had the worst problem with acne for me at least, on my back and face. I was thinking it was because of not having the shots? Coincidence? Idk. Also, I tried doxycycline and it helped some, then tried orthotrycycline and got into the third week and it made me sick to my stomach and dizzy. Uggghh. Help

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for this! I have suffered from acne and post nasal drip (both severe at times) and I've recently discovered that good old fashioned Benadryl (only 1 or 2 caps per day) controls both successfully! I recently started taking it when I returned from someone's house on vacation. They had a new cat, and my PND was off the charts and I was experiencing a pretty bad breakout. When I got home I began taking Benadryl, and they both cleared up at the same time! It's strange, but I KNOW Benadryl helps my skin. I only wish I could figure out what was causing the histamine reaction so I could eliminate it, and not have to take the Benadryl. But if I only take 1 a day, I find there are no side effects. Thanks for acknowledging this connection and explaining it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You know what, I think that I'm going to try this!!! Recently I've noticed that my eyes are really watery, I have a runny nose and...i just had a major breakout that makes me look like I'm sick! I have some allergy meds already since I had allergy issues a while back so I think I'll try them again. It's strange because I eat healthy, exercise and drink a ton of water, so I can't see any reason other than hormones...but I've also been having hormone balancing medication and that's done nothing. Let me give it a try and I'll leave a comment later if it works out! Thanks :)

    • terixf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you both for your comments on this acne/allergies hub and my avatar. I have to say, the avatar does reflect my inner jovial self quite well. On this "Cure acne with allergy treatments?" hub I really must thank Equealla for posting such fantastic comment that opened the door for possibilities. I believe that any of the theories I have put forth can be true for different people under different circumstances. Acne is not easy to deal with sometimes and neither are allergies. If you truly understand how they are interrelated, I believe you can positively affect both acne and allergies. This is one of the things I love about hubpages, that interchanging of ideas can sometimes give birth to new thoughts. Again, thank you both Equealla and katiem2.

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      WOW who knew? Fantastic information as I suffer allergies and the occasional out break, thanks for the great and useful tips. :) BTW, love your avatar

    • terixf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you so much for bringing up such an interesting possibility. I like to explore with new and exciting clinical possibilities now and then so it was great to think about the relationship between allergies and acne. The more I thought about it, the more I could see the interwoven relavance between allergies and acne and the treatments for each. Acne can be such a nagging problem for some of us that I think you can never discuss enough about it. I don't believe it is just a cosmetic issue but also a confidence issue. Thank you for your appreciation of my hub.

    • equealla profile image


      8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Wow, that was informative. You make some very valid points there, and I tend to agree.

      I read your article to the kids. She affirms that when she has a cold the acne come to the fore again, proving your one theory.

      I really appreciate all the effort you had made to find the inter-relationships. Very well presented and understandable. Much obliged. Upped this article.


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