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Acne Misinformation: Does Biotin Actually Cause Acne?

B vitamins contribute to your health in numerous ways, and biotin, or B7, is only one of this eight-member water-soluble group. Biotin is a significant contributor to hair, nail, and skin health, which is why it’s found in many cosmetic and personal care products. It's not a substance your body can produce naturally, meaning there’s no other way to get it than through diet and supplements.

Through the years, however, the rumor mill has done its thing, stirring up concerns that regular use of biotin products and supplements causes acne. Despite how helpful this vitamin is, the idea that it could lead to skin conditions has steered many people away from routine use.

Are the rumors true? Does biotin cause acne? Let's dive into biotin’s true relationship with acne and explore how important and necessary this vitamin really is.

Biotin and Your Overall Health

While it's rare for someone to have a deficiency, a lack of biotin can cause people to experience several symptoms, including:

  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Hair loss
  • Cheilitis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry eyes
  • Depression
  • Glossitis
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia.

The reason for the long list of symptoms is that vitamin B7 is necessary for enzyme production, specifically those involved in the metabolization of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. As a vital aid in the energy production and digestion processes, biotin is crucial to further growth and development of the body. Research now suggests it also plays a critical role in neurological health and even gene expression.

Misunderstanding Biotin as a Cause of Acne

Because being deficient in biotin can negatively affect the hair, nails, and skin, many people began to assume that the vitamin is essential to these parts of the body. 

Many people take biotin supplements for skin health, and some research suggests it’s helpful in treating comedonal acne. However, with so much conflicting information out there, people are often confused as to whether vitamin B7 helps with or contributes to acne. Some irrational thinking on the topic has led to serious misinformation. Does biotin cause acne?

Not likely. The misunderstanding possibly stems from vitamin B5 – not B7. Vitamin B5 is known as pantothenic acid, and unlike biotin, it directly interacts with the outermost skin layer. Because of its necessity and ability to soften the skin, some people believe a B5 deficiency can lead to acne and supplementation can improve it.

B7 becomes the adversarial vitamin, some people speculate, by interfering with the absorption of B5, leading to a potential deficiency. The hypothesis is that biotin interrupts the absorption of pantothenic acid because the body uses the same pathway for each nutrient.

Still, there is no current evidence to support these claims. Despite the confusion and misinformation about each of these crucial B-vitamins, research suggests that each – biotin and pantothenic acid – can help treat acne and other symptoms of the condition.

The Reality of B Vitamins as an Acne Treatment

While there is no conclusive data to suggest biotin or vitamin B5 are adequate treatments for acne on their own, comedonal acne or otherwise, several studies do show a positive relationship with biotin-containing products and B5-containing products and a reduction in acne-related symptoms like breakouts and inflammation.

Biotin and pantothenic acid may be effective tools for reducing breakouts, but there isn't enough research to demonstrate precisely how effective they are. The studies cited above point to success in using products containing not only B7 and B5 but other vitamins as well. It’s impossible to weed out which vitamins contributed more to the effects or results of the studies without further study.

As there is not enough conclusive evidence to claim that biotin use is a perfect remedy for treating acne, it's not currently recommended as a sole therapy or treatment. However, there seems to be enough anecdotal evidence to suggest the vitamin does not cause acne. 

If you’re curious about using biotin or another B supplement for dermatological reasons, consider consulting a dermatologist or physician first.

Biotin Supplements and Side Effects of Routine Use

Taking biotin supplements as prescribed or recommended by your physician or dermatologist does not seem to result in any adverse effects; however, there are potential risks to consider when choosing to take vitamin B7.

Biotin travels the same pathways as other nutrients, and it is possible that taking supplements, especially in conjunction with B5 or alpha-lipoic acid, could result in an absorption reduction.

Vitamin B7 can also result in false test results, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In November of 2017, the FDA issued a warning that biotin could interfere with lab tests. The cause? Many labs use biotin technology in hormone and cardiac marker tests and other lab work. If a patient takes biotin supplements, it’s possible for this to lead to clinically significant changes in test results, meaning patients might receive inappropriate treatments or be misdiagnosed.

Finally, biotin can interfere with certain medications. While the vitamin is essential to normal bodily function, health, and development, it can interfere with how the liver processes medication when taken too often or more than needed.

Additionally, some medications can result in a biotin deficiency, reducing the absorption rate in the intestines. Most often, these medications include drugs used to treat epilepsy, like:

  • Primidone
  • Phenobarbital
  • Carbamazepine
  • Pheytoin

Due to the potential interactions, like false test results and medication interference, it’s best to use biotin supplements under strict medical supervision. Your doctor can help you determine a safe treatment and supplementation plan for all your B vitamins.

While a beneficial vitamin, does biotin cause acne? No. There's no conclusive research pointing to biotin as a significant contributor to acne. Some evidence suggests the nutrient could assist in treating the condition, especially when combined with other vitamins and minerals.

Does that mean you should seek out skincare products containing biotin or start taking a vitamin B7 supplement? Not necessarily.

Everyone’s skin is unique. Instead of guessing about suitable treatment options, consider working with a skincare professional to determine the right solution for you. Nava MD is a clinical skincare service that helps men and women access custom prescription skincare treatments from home, with a doctor’s prescription if appropriate, and a clear treatment plan. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all skincare.

Get started today and have your custom treatment on your doorstep in no time, if prescribed.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency