Acne Patient friendly summary

  • Solar UVB light may reduce the risk of acne. UVB light may kill the bacteria and may stimulate production of vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D may reduce the risk and symptoms of acne by strengthening the immune system.

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.


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.

Find out more...

Do you want to find out more and see the research upon which this summary is based?  Read our detailed evidence summary on acne.

Page last edited: 17 May 2011