Epidemiology of Acne
Acne vulgaris is a condition related to the buildup in the skin of sebaceous fluid, often complemented by a subsequent infection of the skin. Acne is primarily considered a teenage phenomenon, and, although the lack of a standardized classification system is problematic for statistical consistency, studies have shown a prevalence of up to 90 percent among adolescents.
Main Factors in Adolescent Acne
The main predictive factors influencing your statistical likelihood of suffering from acne during adolescence are age and sex. Studies have found that you are three times as likely to develop acne lesions at 16 years of age as at 13 years of age. These distributions are skewed when examined by sex; males are about a third less likely to display acne during their early teenage years, but more likely than their female counterparts to suffer from acne by their mid-teens, according to McGill University.).
Two main factorst function as effective predictors of your individual likelihood to suffer from acne and the potential severity of your symptoms. Genetics has been shown to play a critical role; if your parents suffered from acne, you are nearly twice as likely to develop the condition than an individual with no family history. If your acne is characterized as "early-onset"--that is, developing before puberty--you are more likely to develop a severe form of acne than an individual whose acne develops during puberty.
Diet as an Aggravating Factor
As the medical understanding of acne developed during the 20th century, the idea of diet as a cause of acne was labeled a myth. Today, however, a large body of evidence is developing to suggest that, while modifying your diet might not be a simple cure, what you're currently eating may well be an aggravating factor. Certain aspects of diet have been tentatively linked to several proximal causes of acne, including hormone fluctuations, inflammation and bacteria buildup. This notion is corroborated by a study showing that rates of adolescent acne in India, where poverty necessitates a diet much lower on the glycemic index, are approximately half of those in the Western world.
Other Aggravating Factors
Research on other aggravating factors is limited, but isolated studies have drawn tentative conclusions. If you smoke, there is evidence to suggest that you are more likely to develop acne by a significant margin. Conversely, if you use oral birth control, you are significantly less likely to develop symptoms, and likely to recover sooner.
While acne is much rarer in adults than in teenagers, studies show that a significant portion of adults display symptoms. As an adult, you are about four times as likely to suffer from acne if you are female; this has been attributed to a variety of causes from menstrual hormones to use of makeup. Among adults with moderate to severe acne, studies show that only 1 percent have sought treatment. In men, treatment of these cases was generally quite effective, but in women, therapies were found to have a minimal effect.
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