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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Acne

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.

Risk factors

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.

Prevention

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.

Treatment

Sunlight reduces the symptoms of acne. This may involve production of vitamin D as well as heating and destroying bacteria.

Acknowledgements

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 94164-1603, USA www.sunarc.org wbgrant@infionline.net

References

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  2. Al-Ameer, A. M. Al-Akloby, O. M. Demographic features and seasonal variations in patients with acne vulgaris in Saudi Arabia: a hospital-based study. International journal of dermatology. 2002 Dec; 41 (12): 870-1.
  3. Ammad, S. Gonzales, M. Edwards, C. Finlay, A. Y. Mills, C. An assessment of the efficacy of blue light phototherapy in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Journal of cosmetic dermatology. 2008 Sep; 7 (3): 180-8.
  4. Ayer, J. Burrows, N. Acne: more than skin deep. Postgraduate medical journal. 2006 Aug; 82 (970): 500-6.
  5. Berg, M. Epidemiological studies of the influence of sunlight on the skin. Photo-dermatology. 1989 Apr; 6 (2): 80-4.
  6. Elman, M. Slatkine, M. Harth, Y. The effective treatment of acne vulgaris by a high-intensity, narrow band 405-420 nm light source. Journal of cosmetic and laser therapy : official publication of the European Society for Laser Dermatology. 2003 Jun; 5 (2): 111-7.
  7. Fluhr, J. W. Gloor, M. The antimicrobial effect of narrow-band UVB (313 nm) and UVA1 (345-440 nm) radiation in vitro. Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine. 1997 Oct-Dec; 13 (5-6): 197-201.
  8. Gfesser, M. Worret, W. I. Seasonal variations in the severity of acne vulgaris. International journal of dermatology. 1996 Feb; 35 (2): 116-7.
  9. Harrison, W. J. Bull, J. J. Seltmann, H. Zouboulis, C. C. Philpott, M. P. Expression of lipogenic factors galectin-12, resistin, SREBP-1, and SCD in human sebaceous glands and cultured sebocytes. The Journal of investigative dermatology. 2007 Jun; 127 (6): 1309-17.
  10. Jha, A. K. Gurung, D. Seasonal variation of skin diseases in Nepal: a hospital based annual study of out-patient visits. Nepal Medical College journal : NMCJ. 2006 Dec; 8 (4): 266-8.
  11. Jung, J. Y. Yoon, M. Y. Min, S. U. Hong, J. S. Choi, Y. S. Suh, D. H. The influence of dietary patterns on acne vulgaris in Koreans. European journal of dermatology : EJD. 2010 Nov-Dec; 20 (6): 768-72.
  12. Koreck, A. Pivarcsi, A. Dobozy, A. Kemeny, L. The role of innate immunity in the pathogenesis of acne. Dermatology. 2003; 206 (2): 96-105.
  13. Kramer, C. Seltmann, H. Seifert, M. Tilgen, W. Zouboulis, C. C. Reichrath, J. Characterization of the vitamin D endocrine system in human sebocytes in vitro. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology. 2009 Jan; 113 (1-2): 9-16.
  14. Lee, D. Y. Huang, C. M. Nakatsuji, T. Thiboutot, D. Kang, S. A. Monestier, M. Gallo, R. L. Histone H4 is a major component of the antimicrobial action of human sebocytes. The Journal of investigative dermatology. 2009 Oct; 129 (10): 2489-96.
  15. Melnik, B. [Acne vulgaris. Role of diet]. Der Hautarzt; Zeitschrift fur Dermatologie, Venerologie, und verwandte Gebiete. 2010 Feb; 61 (2): 115-25.
  16. Melnik, B. C. Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products. Nestle Nutrition workshop series. Paediatric programme. 2011; 67131-45.
  17. Nakatsuji, T. Kao, M. C. Zhang, L. Zouboulis, C. C. Gallo, R. L. Huang, C. M. Sebum free fatty acids enhance the innate immune defense of human sebocytes by upregulating beta-defensin-2 expression. The Journal of investigative dermatology. 2010 Apr; 130 (4): 985-94.
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  19. Reichrath, J. Vitamin D and the skin: an ancient friend, revisited. Exp Dermatol. 2007 Jul; 16 (7): 618-25.
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  21. Schwalfenberg, G. K. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Molecular nutrition & food research. 2011 Jan; 55 (1): 96-108.
  22. Tamer, E. Ilhan, M. N. Polat, M. Lenk, N. Alli, N. Prevalence of skin diseases among pediatric patients in Turkey. The Journal of dermatology. 2008 Jul; 35 (7): 413-8.
  23. White, J. H. Vitamin D as an inducer of cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide expression: past, present and future. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 Jul; 121 (1-2): 234-8.
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