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"To summarize, there is no evidence to support iodides as a cause of comedonal acne."
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Published: 11 years ago
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"To summarize, there is no evidence to support iodides as a cause of comedonal acne."

Iodine does not cause acne. Iodine supplementation may exacerbate existing acne, for a time, but over time iodine exhibits healing effects on acne and iodine, topically and internally has been used historically as a treatment for acne vulgaris. Iodine will displace bromide, and we can certainly get bromide zits, but that doesn't last forever. If it does last forever, I have not heard of that. Bromide zits come and go. Any long-term supplementers here that still get bromide zits? If so, please report in!

Above based on....three years on this forum. Bromides are present in seaweeds, hence seaweeds ability to "cause acne". Brominated pharmaceuticals have been used since the at least the mid-1800s, and brominated flour has been used since the 1920s. Iodine was mandated to be added to commercially baked goods from around 1960 - 1980, and I believe that that was because of atmospheric testing releasing radioactive iodine131 in the 50s. A CYA move on the part of the government...I bring that up because it is a common misconception that brominated flour has only been used since the 80s. It's been around a lot longer than that, and that's just one source of bromide exposure. Good post down below by Misscast on other sources of bromide exposure.

And no doubt iodine can contribute to an inflammatory reaction and cause skin eruptions, but once again it is NOT acne, and it is not permanent. Bromides are stored in fat and in skin. I would bet that those that have had the worst experiences with skin eruptions have compromised eliminative pathways....maybe. The skin IS an organ of elimination, and I don't believe that it is necessarily the last resort for eliminating toxins as some others do.

This letter is in response to an article being posted in another forum, posted twice as a matter of fact! Ummmm....repeating something does not make it true, y'all...

The gist of THAT post is that the IODINE in milk causes acne. That is false. The MILK in milk causes acne. 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I do not want people to be scared off from iodine supplementation because iodine "causes acne". The benefits of iodine supplementation are huge~ I would probably be being diagnosed with breast cancer right about now if not for the fact that with iodine supplementation I healed my fibrocystic breast disease.


Volume 56, Issue 1, Pages 164-165 (January 2007)

Acne and iodine: Reply

F. William Danby, MD, FRCPC

To the Editor: Dr Arbesman's letter1 is a welcome addition to the debate linking milk and acne. It raises 3 questions: whether levels of iodine in milk are too high and therefore contribute to acne; what is the source of the iodine; whether there is a valid link between iodine and acne vulgaris per se.

The Food and Drug Administration's Pennington2 states: “The iodine content of milk available to the US public appears to be relatively stable with an overall mean of [23 ± 9 μg/100 g]. One cup of milk provides, on average, 56 μg of iodine, approximately 37% of the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance for this nutrient. This concentration of iodine in milk does not pose a public health threat with regard to this element.” Although isolated instances of high iodine content in farm milk may occur, the pooling of commercial milk makes this a highly unlikely occurrence in the marketplace. As a useful point of reference, the iodine level in human breast milk is quite comparable to that in dairy end products.3

Iodine is an essential dietary ingredient for human and animal health. The literature supports the conclusion that iodine deficiency remains a greater health risk than overdosage. Iodine deficiency is still a problem in many parts of the world, including developed countries such as Germany4, 5 and the Netherlands.6 Measured urinary iodine concentrations have also dropped more than 50% in the United States between 1971-1974 and 1988-1994.7 Safe upper levels of iodine intake have been set at 1000 to 2000 μg/d. Upper limits of milk iodine levels have been set at 500 μg/L. An extensive array of studies from numerous countries indicates that this value is not exceeded in fluid milk at the milk plant level (oral and written communication, T. Hemling, National Mastitis Council, January 24, 2006).

Feed additives have the biggest potential impact on milk iodine levels, and use levels have been regulated in many countries. Postmilking teat dipping can contribute to milk iodine levels up to a level of 100-130 μg/L. Proper udder cleaning or wiping before milking has been shown to minimize the potential iodine contribution from postmilking teat dipping. Predipping with wiping before milking does not increase milk iodine levels more than about 35 μg/L, even for a 1% iodine teat dip. Continued education on proper use of iodine premilking and postmilking teat dip as well as iodine feed additives should help to minimize the risk of elevated milk iodine levels. New developments in the dairy industry such as robotic milking, with automated teat dip application, or the use of iodine barrier dips may warrant further study (personal communication, T. Hemling, National Mastitis Council, January 24, 2006). In the meantime, the present approach is to maintain a balance of iodine exposure and iodine feed additives, which yields a dairy milk iodine level comparable to that in human mothers' milk.

Whether iodine in any concentration causes true acne is debatable. Kelp is recognized as causing an acneiform eruption8 where the iodide source is indeed high, and there is little doubt that a papular and papulopustular acneiform eruption can be triggered by halides, but the hallmark of acne, the comedo, is not part of the initial lesion in this picture. Comedones may appear as secondary lesions.9 The development of an inflammatory lesion is fully consistent with iodide's ability to enhance the inflammatory reaction.10

Although excess milk intake could lead to excess intake of iodide, if one wished to consume sufficient milk to approximate the 750 mg daily therapeutic dose of potassium iodide provided as therapy to a patient with erythema nodosum,11 that would require daily ingestion of 1140 L of milk containing 500 μg iodide per liter. A study by the Food and Drug Administration in 1990 concluded that some individuals can tolerate very high levels of iodine with no apparent side effects and that iodine intakes less than or equal to 1.0 mg/d are probably safe for the majority of the population, but may cause adverse effects in some individuals.12 The definitive work needed to answer the question would be a blinded trial of a very high iodide diet in a teenaged or young twenties population. I suspect it would be a significant challenge to obtain ethics approval, let alone volunteers, for such a study.

To summarize, there is no evidence to support iodides as a cause of comedonal acne.



I thank Dr Arbesman again for the stimulus to review the data and also Tom Hemling, Ph.D., Vice President-Technology, DeLaval and Chair of the National Mastitis Council's Teat Dip Committee, for assistance.



1. Arbesman H. Dairy and acne—the iodine connection. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005;53:1102. Full Text | Full-Text PDF (58 KB) | CrossRef


2. Pennington JAT. Iodine concentrations in US milk: variation due to time, season, and region. J Dairy Sci. 1990;73:3421–3427.


3. Bader N, Moller U, Leiterer M, Franke K, Jahreis G. Pilot study: tendency of increasing iodine content in human milk and cow's milk. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2005;113:8–12. MEDLINE | CrossRef


4. Kirchner S, Stelz A, Muskat E. [Contribution of natural mineral water to the iodine supply of the population]. Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1996;203:311–315German. MEDLINE


5. Schone F. [Iodine deficiency, iodine requirement and iodine excess of farm animals–experiments on growing pigs]. Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 1999;112:64–70German. MEDLINE


6. Brussaard JH, Hulshof KF, Kistemaker C, Lowik MR. Adequacy of the iodine supply in The Netherlands. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997;51(Suppl 4):S11–S15.


7. Hollowell JG, Staehling NW, Hannon WH, Flanders DW, Gunter EW, Maberly GF, et al. Iodine nutrition in the United States. Trends and public health implications: iodine excretion data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys I and III (1971-1974 and 1988-1994). J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998;83:3401–3408. CrossRef


8. Harrell BL, Rudolph AH. Kelp diet: a cause of acneiform eruption. [letter] Arch Dermatol. 1976;112:560.


9. Plewig G, Kligman AM. Acneiform eruptions. In:  Plewig G,  Kligman AM editor. Acne and rosacea. 2nd ed.. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 1993;p. 406–409.


10. Plewig G, Schopf E. Anti-inflammatory effects of antimicrobial agents: an in vivo study. J Invest Dermatol. 1975;65:532–536.


11. Inoue T, Katoh N, Kishimoto S. Erythema nodosum induced by the synergism of acupuncture therapy and flu-like infection. J Dermatol. 2005;32:493–496.


12. Pennington JA. A review of iodine toxicity reports. J Am Diet Assoc. 1990;90:1571–1581. MEDLINE


Dartmouth Medical School, Manchester, New Hampshire

Correspondence to: Dr F. William Danby, Dartmouth Medical School, Department of Medicine, Section of Dermatology, 721 Chestnut St, Manchester, NH 03104-3002


 Funding sources: None.


Conflict of interest: None.


PII: S0190-9622(06)01198-4




© 2007 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc All rights reserved.




And, I'd love to get my hands on this study(gaul and underwood), if anyone's got it, please report in:


Mention should be made in this connexion of the fact that some persons

show a hypersensitivity to iodine in the form of so-called iodine acne and

iododerma of the bullous type. Dermatologists have been concerned with

this problem for some time. Beerman,2 in a recent review, has shown that

there is no agreement yet among dermatologists on the importance of this

question. Thus, Bechet1 reported that 38 % of 240 cases of acne had been

using iodized salt over long periods and improved only after discontinuing

the iodized salt and taking sodium chloride instead. On the other hand,

Gaul and Underwood,9 in a three-year study of the effect of oral iodine on

acne vulgaris, concluded that iodized salt does not have an unfavourable

effect on the course of this disease. They even suggested that iodine defi-

ciency may possibly be a contributory cause of acne. Iodine alone and its

equivalent in iodized salt failed to produce pustular exacerbations. Without

entering into this controversy, it is safe to assume that there may be some

persons who either are hypersensitive to iodine or may become sensitized

through prolonged use of small doses of iodine; for such persons non-

iodized salt should be made available on a prescription basis.




Lots of info here as well:


Many report that acne is a sign of iodine deficiency.... you'll find testimonials on that at



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