Many people with anorexia also deal with acne. Read about the relationship between anorexia and skin problems, like acne.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can produce several health problems, including acne.

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when oily secretions in the skin plug the openings of hair follicles. It produces red, bumpy lesions on the skin. According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, acne can occur in people of all ages but is most common among teenagers.

Many people who experience anorexia also develop acne. The website for Eating Disorder Hope includes a testimonial from a woman in recovery from anorexia who also dealt with acne problems at the height of her anorexia. Acne can exacerbate self-image problems in people with anorexia. In some cases, acne can worsen eating disorders and cause depressive symptoms.

A 2009 study published in the journal Dermatoendocrinol examined anorexia’s association with skin problems. The report stated that skin problems, like acne, are a telltale sign of anorexia nervosa. In some instances, acne increases the risk of developing anorexia.

According to a 2013 study published in the journal Clinics in Dermatology, acne is involved in between 47 and 59 percent of cases of anorexia nervosa. The study indicated that hepatic, renal and thyroid functioning problems related to anorexia can also bring about pruritus, which is severe itching of the skin.

According to The Eating Disorder Institute, acne can also occur in people in recovery from anorexia. While treatments for acne may involve restricting certain foods, removing food groups can lead to the reoccurrence of anorexia. People with anorexia who wish to reduce their acne should speak with a medical professional about healthy ways to treat anorexia and its symptoms.


MedlinePlus. “Acne.” January 30, 2019. Accessed February 19, 2019.

Strumia, Renata. “Skin signs in anorexia nervosa.” Dermato-endocrinology, 2009. Accessed February 19, 2019.

Strumia, Renata. “Eating Disorders and the skin.” Clinics in Dermatology, 2013. Accessed February 19, 2019.

Olwyn, Gwyneth. “Acne in Recovery: I Know, Let’s Just Cut Out Food Groups!” The Eating Disorder Institute, December 4, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.