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Acne study in adult women

What we do

In the last years there has been a steady increase of subjects, especially women, over 25 years old, affected by acne. Several studies have estimated a significant increase in the prevalence of acne in women aged between 25 and 40 years.

From a clinical point of view two types of acne in adulthood have been observed: persistent acne, a more frequent condition that begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood, and acne in early or late post-puberty, which occurs after the age of 25.

Causes and factors that may promote the worsening of acne in adult women are not yet fully identified: internal factors (hormones, use of progestins, genetic predisposition) and external or environmental factors (use of cosmetics, stress, smoke) are recognized.

Centro Studi GISED conducted an observational case-control study: all consecutive patients aged ≥25 years referring to dermatology outpatient of participating Center and with a diagnosis of acne (any grade) by a dermatologist at the time of the visit, were considered as
cases; all consecutive patients aged ≥25 years referring to dermatology outpatient for conditions different from acne and without a diagnosis of acne by a dermatologist at the time of the visit, were considered as controls.

Demographics and medical data, clinical history, dietary habits and use of drugs were collected through a questionnaire, on an overall sample of 248 cases e 270 controls.

Data were analyzed by usual methods of case-control studies in order to identify risk factors (individual and environmental) linked to the onset and severity of acne in adult women.

The analysis highlighted the following risk factors: a family history of acne, the presence of acne during adolescence, no previous pregnancy, the presence of hirsutism, working as an employee, psychological stress and some eating habits, such as low consumption of vegetables, fruit and fish.

While previous studies indicated the association between acne and the consumption of skimmed milk in adolescents, the present work does not confirm this association nor that with BMI, while confirming the protective effect of the consumption of vegetables, fruit and fish. Female acne in adulthood, being less correlated with metabolic factors, seems to have a different origin than that of adolescents.


The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:

Di Landro A, Cazzaniga S, Cusano F, et al. Adult female acne and associated risk factors: Results of a multicenter case-control study in Italy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;75:1134-1141.

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