Can iron supplement cause cyst acne?

Posted on Mon, 11 Jan 2016 in General Health
Question: I have cystic acne following iron supplements which I have to take due to anemia and iron deficiency. I tried different iron medication (iron-II- glycin-sulfate, iron sulfate, iron glucomat, iron bisglycinat-chelat) and different dosages (14-80 mg) but the side effect was the same, nevertheless. I read your interesting answer to this topic from 22.5.2012, so my question is:
- Is there anything new concerning this topic?
- What dosage of vitamin A would you recommend?
- I read that Vitamin C, E, zinc, selen and omega III fat acids would also be helpful as antioxidants to prevent acne. Is that so, and if so, what dosage ?
- Would iron injections possibly prevent the side effect of acne?
- Would it be worth trying to take iron only 1-2 days a week?
I am ovo-lacto-vegetarian, eat a lot of fresh salad, fruit, lenses and peas but could not hold the normal iron level I had got after having taken iron supplements. I take tranexamic acid on the days of strong menstrual bleeding.
Answered by Dr. Aashish Raghu 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Answers to your questions

Detailed Answer:
Hi there.

Thanks for the query.

Lately laser therapy and chemical peels are doing wonders to treat acne.

Vitamin C required is about 75g daily, Vitamin E about 14mg daily, Zinc about 8mg daily, Selenium 55 microgram daily and Omega 3 fatty acids about 1.6g a day.

It is better to eat food rich in iron like green leafy vegetables, Nuts, fish, lean meat, chicken rather than take iron injections. The injections won't be of any extra effective use for acne, unless you are anaemic. Yes, You cab take daily or alternate days therapy for iron

I am glad to know that you are ingesting a very healthy diet. Keep it up. Do daily brisk walking exercise for 45 minutes as well.

Kindly get your menstrual issue looked at by your Gynaecologist for any possible hormone related disorder so that the problem can be treated at source and the acne controlled effectively.

I hope I have answered your query.

I will be available to answer your follow up queries.


Dr. Aashish Raghu
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vinay Bhardwaj
Follow up: Dr. Aashish Raghu 41 minutes later
Thank you for your rapid answer.
Obviously you misunderstood me. Due to anemia (5,9 mMol/l) and iron deficiency (6 ng/ml) I have to take iron supplements which cause my acne. If I don't take iron supplements I do not have acne. But without the iron supplements, with only the proper diet you described, I do not hold the normal iron level and feel extremely tired. (Gastroscopy and colonoscopy have been done, ok).
In view of this, what dosage of the vitamins A, C, E, of zinc and selen would you recommend to neutralize or soften the bad effect (acne) iron supplements have on me?
Do you think it worth to try iron injections to see if they help me with my iron deficiency without provoking acne ?
Answered by Dr. Aashish Raghu 28 hours later
Brief Answer:
Eat iron rich food

Detailed Answer:
Hi there,

I am sorry that my previous answer was not upto the mark. Let me try and address your concern again.

Cystic acne is not listed as a side effect of iron supplements based on clinical studies and experiments. However every individual is different and it is unfortunate that you get those eruption. I don't think iron injection will make any difference. Iron injections will give the same effect as tablets.

In this context, I will suggest you eat food rich in iron to reduce the dosage of iron required. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables, Nuts, fish, eggs, soya is all forms, honey, jaggery, Sugar apple and Beetroot.

That being said, in my opinion acne side effect of iron far outweighs the benefits of treating anemia. If I were your treating doctor, I would urge you to continue it as acne effects can be treated concomitantly by a dermatologist.

As far as the dosage of antioxidants, the dosages mentioned previously are RDA values and no more higher dose is required.

Hope this satisfactorily answered your question.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
Answered by
Dr. Aashish Raghu

Orthopaedic Surgeon

Practicing since :2011

Answered : 5183 Questions


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