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Exposure to pollution, stress and certain foods may contribute to acne development.

Acne is an inflammatory disease of the pilosebaceous follicle most commonly occurring in adolescents and young adults. The severity of acne and its response to treatment may be influenced by internal and external factors.  The CDC defines the term exposome as  the “measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health”.   A recently published study in the Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology analyzed survey data to determine the role of exposome in the development of acne.

The CDC defines the term exposome as  the “measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health”.

This study analyzed data from an international anonymized study of 11,000 participants divided into two groups; clinically confirmed acne and a control group without acne.  The aim of this study was to elucidate the influence of the most frequent internal and external exposome factors involved in acne.  The data revealed numerous enlightening findings. Regarding nutrition, significantly more individuals with acne consumed dairy products on a daily basis as well as regular consumption of whey proteins.   Additionally, acne patients reported “more frequent and regular nibbling” and had significantly higher BMI.

Anabolic steroids are known to contribute to the development and severity of acne and this study revealed three-times more individuals with acne regularly used anabolic steroids. Additional findings revealed patients with acne were more likely to use essential oils or plant oils on their face as well as an electric brush for cleaning. In regards to environmental exposures, patients with acne were more likely to live in an urban environment, closer to airports, industrial sites or cultivated land.   Also of note, acne patients were more likely to suffer from high stress levels, lack of sleep and a higher intake of alcohol.  Although this study is limited by its self-reporting nature, it reveals numerous exposome factors may have a significant impact on acne illustrating the importance of a holistic approach to these patients.

Byline: Sarah B. W. Patton, MSHS, PA-C
Posted December 12, 2019


Hear from acne patient, Kat, about how she overcame her struggle with acne.  

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