The Link Between Insulin Resistance and Common Skin Conditions Explained

In this video, Dr. Ken Berry, a family physician, discusses seven common skin conditions that are linked to insulin resistance. He explains that insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and hyperinsulinemia are essentially different terms for the same underlying issue: chronically elevated levels of insulin in the blood. The skin conditions discussed include early onset male pattern baldness, skin tags, acanthosis nigricans, hidradenitis suppurativa, acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. Dr. Berry emphasizes the importance of getting three specific lab tests to determine if one has insulin resistance and suggests adopting a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet to improve these skin conditions.

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Key Insights:

  • Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and hyperinsulinemia are all closely related and can affect the health and condition of the skin.
  • Early onset male pattern baldness, skin tags, acanthosis nigricans, hidradenitis suppurativa, acne, rosacea, eczema/atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis are all skin conditions that can be linked to insulin resistance.
  • If you or someone you know has one of these skin conditions, it is important to consider the possibility of insulin resistance and get three specific lab tests: hemoglobin A1c, C-peptide, and fasting insulin.
  • A low carbohydrate diet, such as a ketogenic or carnivore diet, can help improve insulin sensitivity and positively impact these skin conditions.
  • Considering dietary changes and understanding the root cause behind these skin conditions can make a significant difference in managing and improving skin health.


So many of us with skin conditions all over the world, we think, „Well, I just have acne, or I just have rosacea, or I just have psoriasis.“ There’s „I just have it.“ Maybe it’s genetic, maybe I was exposed to something. What if there was a root cause behind numerous very, very common skin conditions, and by taking control of this root cause after you detect it, you could actually greatly improve your skin condition? Yeah, that sounds like a big deal, right?

I’m Dr. Ken Berry, a family physician with 20 years of clinical practice, and this video is going to explain to you seven skin signs of insulin resistance. And you may have never heard of insulin resistance, but even if you haven’t, it can still really affect your health and affect your skin. This video is going to help you understand that and more.

First of all, let’s discuss three different terms and help you understand what they mean, and also the fact that they mean effectively the same thing. The first term is insulin resistance, and most doctors have heard of this term before. And most doctors and most patients take that to mean that our cells just don’t respond to insulin like they once did, and that, therefore, your blood sugar goes up. You can’t get blood sugar from your bloodstream into your cells.

The second term is metabolic syndrome, and this is a formal diagnosis. There are multiple different signs of this. If you have a certain number of those signs, then you have metabolic syndrome. But it’s basically the same thing as insulin resistance.

Then the third term, which I think describes both insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome the best of all, is hyperinsulinemia, which means you’ve got a chronically elevated level of insulin in your bloodstream. And so you can really think of all three terms interchangeably. They are different from each other in little ways, but the overarching paradigm of thinking about these is your insulin level in your blood is chronically high. And that leads to either causing the skin conditions I’m about to tell you about in many people, and then other people making these skin conditions much, much worse than they would be otherwise.

These skin conditions are very, very common. And if you don’t suffer from one, I guarantee you, you have a friend or a loved one who does suffer from one of these skin conditions. While I’m going through this list of conditions, if you hear a condition you’re like, „Oh yeah, my buddy Fred has that. Or my daughter Amy has that,“ please consider sharing this video with them because knowing this root cause behind their skin condition can make all the difference in the world.

At the end of this video, I’m going to tell you about three lab tests that you can go to your doctor and request – respectfully and lovingly, or demand, either way – demand these three tests. And they will give you insight into whether you have metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia, all three of which are intimately linked to all of the skin conditions I’m about to tell you about. Are you ready? Here we go.

Number one is early onset male pattern baldness. Now, you may have thought that this was a sign that you had too much testosterone or that you had bad genetics. And indeed, both of these do play a small role. But male pattern baldness is very, very closely linked to insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia, especially the earlier the onset. And this can be in men or women. This is male pattern baldness, not just male baldness. And so some women suffer from male pattern baldness. If you’re a man or a woman and you have early onset male pattern baldness, you need to go to your doctor and demand the three tests I’m going to tell you about at the end.

The next skin condition is skin tags. Now, many, many millions of people have skin tags. If you just have one or two tiny ones, that may not be a big deal. But if you have three or more that are medium to large in size, you almost certainly have some degree of insulin resistance, and you should ask for the three tests I’m going to tell you about.

The next skin condition on the list is acanthosis nigricans. This is a brownness or a darkness of the skin on the back of the neck, or under the arms, or in the groin. This is almost 100% of the time a sign of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or hyperinsulinemia. This usually happens to people with darker skin pigment, but it can happen in lighter skin pigments as well. It is a very, very concerning sign that you’re insulin resistant, and that you need these three tests.

The next skin condition is hidradenitis suppurativa. This is a very, very annoying skin condition that you can have in your armpits or in your groin that is just chronic and comes and goes, and it’s just a terrible condition to have. And many, many, many people and most doctors have no idea that it is very, very tightly related to having insulin resistance. And the three tests at the end of this video will help you tease this out.

The next skin condition is one of the most common skin conditions in the world, and that’s acne. Yeah, acne is very, very closely related to having insulin resistance. Now, if you’ve heard much about insulin resistance in the past, you know that typically people who are overweight or obese and older in age typically have insulin resistance. Here’s the thing. Very young people, and also very slender people can have insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia very commonly. If they’re, if you have a teenager or someone in their 20s and they have not just a pimple or two, I’m talking about a substantial case of acne, a severe case of acne, they almost certainly have hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance. And there’s no need to wait till you’re 40 or 50 or 60 years old to get these tests checked. If you have a teenage loved one who has moderate to severe acne, they need these tests checked ASAP.

The next skin condition is rosacea. I actually have rosacea, although you can’t tell it now because I got the test checked that I’m going to tell you about. And then I did the things that make my insulin resistance, my hyperinsulinemia get better and go away. And therefore, my rosacea went away as well. Rosacea can be quite concerning. You can actually have a buildup of blood vessels in the skin of your cheeks and nose. You can wind up with a severe condition called rhinophyma where your nose actually becomes bumpy and enlarged because of years and years of damage from the rosacea. So if you have even a mild case of rosacea, get these tests checked, I implore you.

And the last two skin conditions are eczema or atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Millions of people of all ages suffer from these conditions. And almost every single one of these people have no idea that both of these conditions are very, very closely linked with having insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia. Even very, very young children can have hyperinsulinemia. And that’s why the three tests I’m about to tell you about are so important.

If you were just surprised by one of the skin conditions that I talked about being related to insulin resistance, and you’re like, „No, my doctor said it was genetic or it was just luck of the draw,“ I’ve included lots of research links down in the show notes below that you can find your particular skin condition or the skin condition of a loved one and look it up. And so when you go to your doctor to ask for these three tests, if your doctor says, „You have acne. That doesn’t mean you have insulin resistance.“ You can whip out the studies that you printed off from Dr. Berry’s video and say, „Actually, Doctor, these studies seem to suggest that this skin condition is very, very closely related to insulin resistance. Will you please check my labs?“

So the three lab tests that you really need to strongly yet gently request from your doctor are a hemoglobin A1c, which is going to give you a three-month average of what your blood sugar has been doing. It’s a great test for checking if your blood sugar spikes high occasionally or daily. You can see that on a hemoglobin A1c. The second test is a C-peptide. This is a beautiful proxy marker for how much insulin your pancreas is having to produce each day. And then the third test is a fasting insulin test. And this is going to be elevated if your pancreas is having to excrete lots and lots of insulin every day.

Now finally, what do you do? Okay, so you got one of these skin conditions, and you went to the doctor, and you got these three tests checked. And sure enough, you have insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia or metabolic syndrome. Now what do you do?

These all three of these conditions and all of these skin conditions are either caused by or made worse by eating a high carbohydrate diet. You need to start to investigate and start to implement a very low carbohydrate diet. Some people call this a ketogenic way of eating or ketogenic diet. Keto diet. Some people have to go even lower carb than that to a ketovore diet, which is a ketogenic diet that’s mainly fatty meat and a little bit of veg. Some people have to go all the way to a full carnivore diet in order to get the carbohydrates in their diet low enough that their insulin level will come back down to normal and their insulin resistance will go away or at least get a lot better.

At the end of this video, I’m going to have playlists pop up here and here for keto or carnivore. So, if you’d be happy just eating meat, check out the carnivore 101 playlist. If you need a little veg in your life, then check out the keto 101 playlist. Either one of these dietary strategies is going to reduce your chronically elevated levels of insulin and cause all of your cells to be more insulin-sensitive. And cause all of these skin conditions we talked about in this video to improve.

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This is Dr. Berry. I’ll see you next time.