Acne vulgaris is also called common acne. It is one of the most prevalent skin conditions affecting teenagers.
Acne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands. These glands lubricate the skin. When the glands become blocked, bacteria overgrows and causes skin blemishes.
Acne is characterized by pimples, scaly red skin, blackheads and whiteheads, pinheads and large papules, and possible scarring.
Acne risk factors include:
- Western diet: High in animal products (milk) and simple carbohydrates (sugar), low in fish and vegetables
- Hormone imbalance: Especially during the teen years
- Increased levels of substances that form testosterone: For both males and females; Estrogen: For females
Sunlight exposure and acne risk
Seasonality patterns of visits to dermatology offices can be used to estimate the effect of sunlight on the risk of acne. Most studies of seasons find:
- Higher rates of acne in the winter or spring
- Lower rates of acne in the summer
These findings support a role of sunshine in reducing the risk of acne vulgaris. However, these findings may not be caused by solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) light. Blue light laser therapy has also proven effective in treating acne. It heats and destroys organic compounds in the bacteria. Thus, many sun wavelengths appear to reduce the risk of acne.
Vitamin D and acne
Vitamin D levels
There are no reported studies on the benefits of vitamin D for acne.
How vitamin D works
Vitamin D does not appear to affect the risk or expression of acne.
However, vitamin D may impact sebocytes (cells that excrete oil) by producing cathelicidin and defensins. These proteins have antibacterial properties.
There is little evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of developing acne.
However, vitamin D helps strengthen the immune system. This may help the body fight acne.
Sunlight reduces the symptoms of acne. This may involve production of vitamin D as well as heating and destroying bacteria.
This evidence summary was written by:
William B. Grant, Ph.D.
Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC)
P.O. Box 641603
San Francisco, CA
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